Buyers beware: Mixed display supplies ahead

El Segundo, Calif. — Buyers should plan on a rollercoaster ride with display supplies fluctuating between shortages and excess inventories throughout the year due to new tablet introductions aimed at taking share from Apple Inc’s iPad, according to IHS iSuppli Research.

IHS iSuppli’s latest display report forecasts that global tablet shipments are expected to more than triple in 2011, rising to 57.6 million units, up from 17.1 million in 2010.


Although Apple will retain 70.4 percent share of tablet shipments next year, the company will face increasing competition from new tablet rivals including Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Hewlett-Packard Co., Research in Motion Ltd., Dell Inc. and dozens of other companies, said the market research firm.

“IHS believes that as these iPad competitors turn their focus to tablets, the demand for netbook and notebook displays will soften,” said Joe Abelson, vice president of displays at IHS, in a statement.

“And because the tablet market is so new and volumes are unpredictable, display suppliers will be forced to gamble production capacity on the unrealistically high projections of their tablet customers. With different panel sizes and specs in play, the industry should expect to see significant inventory shortages and excesses to occur at the SKU level throughout 2011, potentially accompanied by heavy discounting or scrapping of unused displays,” he added.

Other key trends to watch for in 2011 are a breakthrough in the manufacturing of active-matrix organic light emitting diode (AMOLED) displays, and the emergence of 3-D capability, said IHS iSuppli.

The market researcher says massive investments in new materials, processes and production capacity will enable Samsung, which is currently the only major supplier of AMOLEDs, as well as LG and one or two other display companies to drive AMOLED penetration deeper into mobile devices. This means there may be premium AMOLED televisions on retail shelves this year, said IHS iSuppli.

IHS iSuppli predicts that 3-D capability will be added to many high end TV models, risking these brands’ customer loyalty when early adopters learn in a year or two that their investment is obsolete because of improved technology such as glasses-free 3-D or projected 3-D.