Nichia tops LED supplier ranking

imsresearchlogoWellingborough, England — Nichia remains the top supplier by revenue for the second year in a row, but will be challenged in 2011 by Samsung LED, which currently holds the number two position, reports IMS Research. The market research firm projects that Samsung LED will overtake Nichia in 2011 when demand for LCD TVs with LED backlights starts to pick-up in the second quarter of 2011.

Other top-ranked suppliers include Osram, Lumileds, Seoul Semiconductor and Cree.

IMS also reveals that supplier market share varies by segment. For example, IMS cites that Osram is the market leader in automotive applications, while Cree is the top supplier in lighting. Nichia is strong in both automotive and lighting sectors as well as backlighting and signage/large displays.

The market for LEDs, including standard, AlInGaP and InGaN, has grown from $6.1 billion in 2009 to about $10.0 billion in 2010, driven by economic recovery, lighting, as well as TV and monitor backlights, according to IMS. However, LED TV backlighting demand has dropped in the fourth quarter due to supply chain corrections. (See related article: Outlook looks bleak for display driver ICs)

According to DisplaySearch’s latest “Quarterly Large-Area TFT LCD Shipment Report — Advanced LED“, panel shipments of LCD TV with LED backlight grew from 10.2 million in the second quarter of 2010 to 14.9 million in the third quarter of 2010, up 46 percent Q/Q, which is significantly more than the 4 percent Q/Q growth rate for all LCD TV panels.

Another key finding from the Santa Clara, Calif.-based market research firm shows that LED penetration in LCD TV panels rose from 18.5 percent in the second quarter of 2010 to 25.9 percent in the third quarter of 2010. Although panel makers predict almost flat shipments in the fourth quarter, they expect LED penetration to reach 29.2 percent, according to DisplaySearch.

The market experienced a severe oversupply situation in the third quarter of 2010, primarily caused by inventory adjustments by LCD TV OEMs and brands. This caused panel prices to fall, and for some models pricing has fallen below cost causing major problems for panel makers, said DisplaySearch.

DisplaySearch says some panel makers were carrying too much inventory of LED chips and LED backlights in the third quarter, and to clear inventories, they have resorted to spot deal prices and trading, rebates and larger price reductions, all good news for buyers.

But buyers are cautiously assessing their needs and buying only what they will use rather than building inventories, said DisplaySearch

For OEMs and brands that have established their own LCD module lines to focus on vertical integration, they still have a technical readiness gap with panel makers and backlight vendors, said DisplaySearch. They also found that their own solutions are not cost effective, which means they have to buy more LED LCD TV panels instead of making their own modules, according to the market research company.

Still, not every LCD TV size is transitioning from CCFL to LED backlighting, said DisplaySearch. Most of the transition is occurring at the larger panel sizes including 40-in.W, 42-in. W, 47-in. W, 52-in. W and 55-in. W. DisplaySearch says large screens can easily leverage LED backlight benefits such as lower power consumption and slim form factor.