Large-Area Panels Rebound From First Fall

TFT panel suppliers are forecast to ship 718 million large-area (9″+) panels this year – a 3% rise compared to 2013. NPD DisplaySearch says that panel price increases and an expanding average TV size will enable revenues to keep pace with shipments. Revenues will also grow 3% YoY, to $75 billion.

Large-area TFT panel shipments fell for the first time last year (Display Monitor Vol 20 No 44). However, panel makers have achieved ‘most’ of their business plans this year, thanks to a market rebound that began in Q2. 2013 was a year of convergence between inventory adjustments and panel value upgrades, but 2014 saw a tighter market as inventory adjustments met increased demand.

Growth in both LCD TV size and area led to balanced TFT LCD supply and demand – and even a shortage, leading to rising panel prices. LCD TV shipments reached 64 million units in Q2, a record high that was broken with 65 million shipments in Q3.

There have been several panel technology improvements this year, including UltraHD, slim bezels, ultra-slim and high colour gamut units. Beyond TFT LCD, DisplaySearch expects AMOLED tablet panels with 280 – 360ppi to reach 5 million this year.

In terms of specific product categories:

* Notebook panels suffered a shortage this year, due to panel makers’ conservative plans in the first half. 1920 x 1080 and other high resolutions have been more common in notebooks this year, as panel makers began production in late 2013. Flat light guide plates in the backlight were also adopted, for ultra-slim panels; these units represented almost 76% of notebook panel shipments in Q3’14.

* Tablet PCs moved to large (9″+) sizes, due to cannibalisation by smartphones and maturing demand for small models. AMOLED was successfully introduced to the tablet market this year.

* LCD monitor panel shipments reached their lowest level since 2006. DisplaySearch says that this was due to the mature desktop PC market and slow replacement cycle. Plans in the future are to shift to larger sizes and added value; for example, 2560 x 1440 and UltraHD resolutions.

* Area demand for LCD TV panels is expected to reach 112 million m², from 97 million m² in 2013 (15% YoY growth). Manufacturers are planning to ship more than 20 million UltraHD TV panels this year.

* With the fall of plasma panels and strong momentum in digital signage, public display LCD shipments are forecast to grow 39% YoY. Industrial and large-screen automotive displays are also expected to grow; according to DisplaySearch, 9″+ automotive unit shipments will rise from 940,000 last year to 2 million this year.