“One day with touch,” said TPK President Tom Ta-Min Sun at FPD
International China 2013/Beijing Summit held recently. He told a
story at the conference. Three children were visiting one of
their plants. They picked a non-touch product equipped with a
keyboard and tried in vain to swipe the screen so they came to
the conclusion that “it’s broken”. Apparently, Mr. Sun was
trying to convey one message that the touch era has come.
Production of touch panels rises dramatically
Statistics show that the Chinese mainland experienced another touch panel boom in the second half of 2012. Touch panels for mobile phones still contributed to the lar-gest share of shipments. It is expected that shipments of such panels in the mainland will exceed 500 million sheets in 2013, making up around 40.5% of the world’s total.
According to Topology Research Institute (TRI), shipments of touch panels for mobile phones in the mainland showed a year-on-year growth of 10% in the first half of
2013, and are expected to reach 234 million sheets in the second half of the year, up around 3% over the first six months.
As mainland manufacturers increased their capacity in the second half of 2012, Taiwan-made touch panels at medium and low price levels have gradually been replac-ed by cheaper mainland products. In the first half of 2013, the shipments of touch panels for mobile phones in the Chinese mainland registered 228 million sheets, far
more than those in Taiwan, and countries like Japan and South Korea. The mainland’s global market share in this regard stood at 40%.
As the prices of smart phones and tablets go down, the landscape of the touch panel industry is changing. Traditional touch solution providers like O-Film have been
upgrading their technology, and large panel makers such as BOE have also taken part in the competition. The influence of Chinese panel makers has been on the rise.
Multiple technologies play a part
“OLED TVs are coming onto the market.”
Samsung’s 55-inch OLED TVs will be put on the market on September 16. At the Consumer Electronics Show early this year, Samsung, LG, Sony, and Panasonic exhib-ited their OLED TVs in a big way.
OLED has been widely recognized as the display technology of the future and display makers have experimented with OLED products one after another. According to industry experts, today’s OLED TVs are mostly not good enough and technology is yet to be improved but OLED’s development prospects are excellent.
CSOT, a company where TCL has a controlling stake, is considering introducing a Gen 8.5 production line for making OLED TVs. BOE has started to build its Gen 8.5
production lines in Hefei and Chongqing; CSOT is preparing for building the production line; Samsung’s Gen 8.5 production line in Suzhou and LDG’s Gen 8.5 production line in Guangzhou will also be put into operation soon.
Will the fast growth of new-generation display technology AMOLED exert impacts on the China’s LCD panel industry?
According to Wang Dongsheng, BOE Chairman and Chairman of China Optics and Optoelectronics Manufactures Association (COEMA) LCB, AMOLED is the extension and development of TFT-LCD; TFT-LCD is still advancing while it will still take some time to break the bottlenecks in AMOLED.“Which one of the two technologies is more competitive is yet to be seen.” Therefore,TFT-LCD and AMOLED will be both in the market for quite a long time.“New AMOLED products are expected to be mass-produced in 2014 and available in quantity in the domestic market from 2105 on.”
Apart from Chinese panel makers, giants of the display industry in Japan and South Korea have also intensified efforts to develop OLED products. According to Li Xin,
Director-General of the NDRC Department of Hi-Tech Industry, the central government will provide more guidance and support for the OLED industry in light of its strategic significance, while continuing to drive the TFT-LCD industry to be larger and stronger.
Large-sized and flexible displays are the trends
“Given the technical features of OLED, large-sized and flexible displays will be trends in the future,” said Wu Yande, Vice President of Visionox.
The view is also shared by Lou Jun, Deputy General Manager of Tianma Micro-electronics Co., Ltd. “4G licenses are expected to be issued at the end of this year,
ushering in the era of large-sized displays. It means more data and traffic for operators,” he said.
“Large size will be the theme of the future,” said Zhu Yongquan, General Manager of AUO Optronics (Suzhou) Co., Ltd. “Large size will be a trend in both mobile phones and TVs. In the field of smart TVs, as the energy subsidy policy is about to end, large stores will step up the promotion of large-sized products. The TV market will see a fast growth in 39-inch, 50-inch, and larger products.”
Moreover, wearable smart devices featuring flexible display technology, such as watches, glasses, and e-books, are gaining in popularity. Flexible displays are not
mass-produced yet. Flexible display makers need to address such problems as increasing the life cycle of devices and reducing the overall cost of products.
Policy support is growing
“If you love him, talk him out of the panel business; if you hate him, talk him into the panel business,” said Wang Dongsheng frankly. The panel industry was running at loss most of the time before 2012, and no profits were brought in until the second half of 2012.
According to DisplaySearch, in 2012, the Chinese mainland saw its share in the global panel market rise to 9.9% from 6%, catching up with Japan for the first time. That made the mainland the third largest FPD producer in the world, following South Korea and Taiwan. The share is expected to double again and reach 18.6% in 2014.
“But the size of the Chinese panel industry is small and investments are scattered,” said Peng Hongbing, Deputy Director-General of the MIIT Department of Electronic Information. The combined capacity of leading companies such as BOE, CSOT, Tianma, and CEC-Panda is only a small fraction of a famous foreign panel maker’s capacity. A more critical issue is that supporting industries are developing much slower than the panel industry.
According to Peng Hongbing, the government will introduce more flexible tax measures such as tariff adjustment to give stronger support to the industry. “In the future,
flexible adjustments will be made to the tariffs, import duties and even export tax rebates on ancillary equipment and materials according to the development of the industry.”