Reports and projections of LCD component shortages â€“ particularly cold-cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs) for backlights and matrix color filters â€“ have been circulating for months. But, recently, the reports are becoming both wide-spread and specific. AUO, while announcing record monthly earnings for November, cited CCFL shortages has a main reason why the results were less than 1% better than Octoberâ€™s. And one Korean
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manufacturer was reported to have have its shipments constrained by an improbably large percentage due to CCFL shortages. Further CCFL shortages were reported to varying degrees by Taiwan manufacturers, as well, with monitor lines being less affected than TV and notebook lines, and companies with Taiwan sources of supply less affected than those dependent on Japanese sources. Meanwhile, CCFL makers are adding manufacturing lines at a rapid rate, but shortages are predicted to last at least into Q2, and perhaps into Q3 or later.
CCFLs arenâ€™t the only problem. Allied Material Technology Corporation (AMTC) says Gen 5 and Gen 6 color filters will be in short supply throughout 2006. AUO, Taiwanâ€™s largest LCD manufacturer and the third largest in the world, has protected itself by signing a five-year contract for Gen 5 color filters â€“ thatâ€™s half the capacity of AMTCâ€™s new Gen 5 color-filter plant. (The other half is going to Japanâ€™s Toppan CFI.)