Smartwatch Glass Revenues Well Ahead of Area Demand

Area demand in the display cover glass market is still dominated by smartphones, says IHS. A key factor in this continued trend is the rise in smartphone screen sizes. However, revenue in the cover glass market is falling as the smartphone and tablet markets mature.

According to IHS, cover glass revenue growth will fall from 39% YoY in 2013 to a projected 11% in 2015. However, the overall market slump is not affecting some areas – specifically smartwatch cover glass, which is being supported by the Apple Watch.

Average selling prices (ASPs) for cover glass are falling quickly, said IHS’ Terry Yu, due to simpler industrial designs and weak device demand. Glass makers are now looking to smartwatches as a way to support their low revenue growth.

By area, smartphones are expected to have a 55% share of the cover glass market in 2015. Changing requirements, such as rising use of aluminosilicate glass, are increasing ASPs; this means that smartphone cover glass will take 63% of market revenues. Tablets, on the other hand, will take 29% of cover glass area demand, but only 25% of revenues.

IHS expects area demand for smartwatch cover glass to increase five-fold this year, to 33,000m². That is still just 0.1% of the total cover glass area shipments, as wearable displays are small. However, ASPs are likely to be high, due to the slightly-curved ‘2.5D’ design and higher penetration of sapphire glass. IHS believes that smartwatch cover glass revenue will take 3% of the market in 2015. Sapphire glass material costs can be up to 12 times that of aluminosiliocate glass.