Flat-panel displays rebounding in 2012 as prices fall, performance rises

October 18, 2012 – Worldwide flat-panel display (FPD) revenues will reach a record $120 billion in 2012, up 8% from a challenging year in 2011, and the recovery is entirely on the backs of TFT-LCDs and AMOLED displays, according to NPD DisplaySearch.

TFT-LCD displays still make up the vast share of all display sales (~90%), and so the overall market tracks in-step with this segment, rebounding from a -5% decline in 2011 to an 8% rise in 2012. Note, though, that of all the other display technology slices, AMOLEDs have by far the best growth trajectory — two years ago it was fourth in total market share (1%) behind plasma, passive matrix, and roughly tied with CRT; now it’s the second-most-popular display technology with a 5.4% share and the gap is widening. Credit surging manufacturing capacity and expansion of market players, DisplaySearch says. The only other segment to see any growth is liquid crystal on silicon (LCOS) used for microdisplays. Also note the sharp rise and sharper plummet of active-matrix electrophoretic displays (AMEPD), used in monochrome e-reader devices, which are giving up ground to TFT-LCD tablet PCs.

Worldwide FPD revenues by technology, 2010-2012. (Source: NPD DisplaySearch)

2011 was a tough year for displays due to price erosion in TFT-LCD panels, particularly for TV applications, DisplaySearch notes. The rebound in 2012 has many factors behind it: bigger average sizes and shipments of LCD TVs, higher prices for high-resolution mobile displays, strong unit growth for tablet PCs, expansion of AMOLED shipments and applications, thinner and lighter ultraslim notebook PC panels, the emergence of 4k × 2k LCD TVs, and demand for a number of applications including games, car navigation systems, and digital signage.

"While the industry faces challenges in traditional applications such as plasma TVs and mainstream sizes of LCD TVs and desktop monitors, the addition of new features and lower prices are driving growth of applications such as tablet PCs and smartphones," explained David Hsieh, VP at NPD DisplaySearch.

The outlook for the FPD industry isn’t entirely cloud-free: there’s a lot of saturation in several major markets, Hsieh noted. Nevertheless, the supply chain is figuring out how to "increase the value proposition" of FPDs by emphasizing their technology improvements: higher resolution for mobile devices, bigger screens, thinner and lighter versions for mobile PCs, improved wide-viewing angle, and desirable functionalities like touchscreen. "We expect 2013 to be a good year for the FPD industry, with revenue increasing, as TFT LCD prices recover and AMOLED demand grows," Hsieh said.


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