Smart phones, tablets drive new technologies

Santa Clara, Calif. — Small and medium active-matrix flat-panel displays experienced strong growth for a variety of applications thanks to improved features and technologies, reported DisplaySearch. These displays include TFT LCDs, active matrix organic light-emitting diodes (AMOLEDs), and active matrix electrophoretic displays (AMEPDs).

According to DisplaySearch’s Quarterly Small/Medium Shipment and Forecast Report, 2010 shipments grew 23 percent year-on-year, reaching 1.89 billion units, due to increasing demand for smart phones, digital photo frames, navigation devices and multi-functional displays in automotive monitors.


“The ability of smart phones to offer consumers more functionality is putting pressure on display manufacturers to incorporate more advanced features,” stated Hiroshi Hayase, DisplaySearch’s vice president of Small/Medium Display Research. “As a result, the requirements for small/medium displays are shifting toward higher resolution and contrast, as well as wider-viewing angles, which are needed to enable advanced features for the transition from feature phones to smart phones, and from compact DSCs to high-performance detachable lens DSCs.”

“In the automotive market, the shift is toward multi-functional automotive monitors with navigation capabilities,” Hayase added.

To meet the demand in advanced performance applications such as smart phones and tablet PCs, TFT LCD manufacturers are using wide-viewing angle technology in their small/medium display designs. DisplaySearch expects display shipments with in-plane switching (IPS) and fringe field-switching (FFS) technologies to increase from 214 million units in 2010 to 600 million units in 2014.


The report finds that Samsung Mobile Display led in total AMFPD revenue, with a 15.9 percent share, driven by high-priced AMOLEDs primarily for smart phones.

IHS iSuppli reports that Samsung has invested $4.8 billion for its next generation 5.5G, or 1,300 millimeter x 1,500 millimeter, AMOLED fab. This first stage of production will produce 24,000 substrates per month from Samsung’s Tangjeong facility.

Samsung also noted up to three increments of 5.5G capacity and about 70,000 in monthly capacity, which would boost its AMOLED output capacity from about 3 million per month in 2010 to more than 8 million panels per month of 4-inch equivalent displays by the end of 2011, reported IHS iSuppli. A second fab line with the same capacity is scheduled to start mass production in early 2012, which will significantly increase overall AMOLED supply, said IHS.

DisplaySearch said Sharp ranked second, experiencing a significant revenue increase from new 3D gaming device panels, which started to ship in the fourth quarter of 2010, in addition to the company’s continued automotive and portable media player panel revenue growth.

Chimei Innolux, ranked at number 3, increased revenues supported by automotive monitor TFT LCDs, in addition to mobile phone panel shipments for first-tier makers.

IHS iSuppli also reported that AMOLED is becoming a popular display for smart phones, particularly high-end Android models. IHS projects that global unit shipments of AMOLEDs will climb to 271.2 million units in 2015, rising at a 40.6 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 49.4 million units in 2010. AMOLED revenue is expected to reach $3.6 billion in 2015, expanding at a CAGR of 31.9 percent from $892.1 million in 2010.

“AMOLEDs are enjoying rising usage in smart phones because of their wider viewing angle, higher refresh rates and thinner formats, compared to conventional liquid crystal displays (LCDs) used in most cell phones,” stated Vinita Jakhanwal, principal analyst for small and medium displays at IHS. “The adoption of AMOLEDs also is being propelled by increasing manufacturing capacity from leading supplier Samsung Mobile Display.”

However, Jakhanwal noted that AMOLEDs still face several challenges, including ” high manufacturing cost, resolution challenges, limited product lifetime, reduced visibility in sunlight and a complex, time-consuming manufacturing process.”

iSuppli estimates that AMOLED displays are currently 30 percent to 60 percent more costly to manufacture than equivalent low-temperature polysilicon (LTPS) LCD displays.

The IHS iSuppli report also indicates that shipments of low-end smart phones will rise at a CAGR of 81.1 percent from 2010 to 2015, while mid- to high-end smart phone shipments will grow at a CAGR of 15.1 percent during the same period.