LEDs to get backlighting market share help from rising CCFL costs

August 13, 2012 — In 2011, light emitting diodes (LEDs) were expected to grab market share from cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs) in the display backlighting segment. However, prices for CCFL-backlight TVs fell alongside prices for LED-backlit TVs, and consumers preferred lower-cost models. Now, CCFL raw materials costs have exploded, setting the stage for market share grabs by LEDs, albeit later than expected, reports Jimmy Kim, DisplaySearch.

Rare-earth metals, the main raw material for CCFL phosphors, saw 5-10x higher prices from 2010 to 2011. As a result, the price of phosphor also jumped, rising to about 6x the price in 2010.

Figure 1. Prices for rare earth metals and phosphors for CCFL.

This price increase could lead to a scale-down of CCFL production and a lower utilization rate, which will push CCFL unit prices higher, further closing the price gap with LED units.

In 2011, most Japanese CCFL makers had already shed the CCFL business, seeing lost cost competitiveness. Korean and Chinese CCFL makers took the opportunity to fill higher-than-expected CCFL demand. The large scale production enabled by the concentrated purchase orders helped them hold the CCFL unit price stable, even under the increasing raw materials cost.

During 2012, the market situation grew worse for CCFL makers. TV makers introduced new low-cost direct LED-backlit TVs for the entry TV market segment. They plan to increase their sales allocation to these new products, which will lead to a further decrease in demand for CCFL. CCFL panel shipments are expected to decrease more than 40% Y/Y after Q2 2012. In 2011, the decrease was 30% Y/Y. This means that the scale-down and lower utilization rate for CCFL production seems inevitable this year.

Figure 2. CCFL panel shipments.

CCFL prices for some new models increased in Q2. Regardless, there have been almost no changes in CCFL prices for running models. The decrease in CCFL demand caused by the low-cost direct backlight TVs has led to a rise of CCFL unit price. This will probably lead to a further decrease in CCFL demand. We also expect that the EOL of CCFL-backlit LCD TVs will be accelerated.

This full article was published by Jimmy Kim in the DisplaySearch Monitor, August 2012. Learn more about DisplaySearch reports and more at www.displaysearch.com.

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