ITO Challenged in New Applications

IDTechEx has examined the transparent conductive film (TCF) market in a new research report (, specifically covering ITO alternatives, and believes that the end of the downturn may be in sight.

The TCF industry has experienced sluggish growth lately. It has moved from being supply-limited to demand-limited (supply outstrips demand). Due to this, and the threat of alternative solutions, suppliers have been cutting prices. These are now down to around half of the price they were a few years ago: $15 – $17 per m², from $30 – $35. This has upset the previous value proposition of some alternative technologies.

A consolidation period has been triggered in the industry, taking a number of high-profile victims. However, IDTechEx expects that the move has largely run its course.

Despite the good performance of some alternatives, like metal mesh and silver nanowires, ITO has managed to beat them off. Therefore, they are having to wait for new applications such as large-area touch and flexible displays. The value chain and business case for ‘many’ of these applications is now coming together.

IDTechEx expects that ITO alternatives are ‘here to stay’, having matured as technologies and begun market penetration. The firm expects more than $220 million-worth of these products to be sold in 2026, representing a 10-year CAGR of almost 40%. Almost 65% of growth will come from emerging applications, which today only make up about 3% of TCF/G sales. Today’s three primary applications are projected to register a CAGR of just 2.8%, while ‘nascent’ application areas will achieve a 42% CAGR.

The graphic shows market shares of ITO and ITO alternatives in 2026, in traditional and existing applications (left) and those emerging today (right). These show that ITO will remain dominant in existing applications, but will be challenged in new areas.