TFT LCD panel suppliers are expanding their business plans this year, as the market demand for key applications grows.
According to the latest DisplaySearch Quarterly Large-Area TFT Panel Shipment Report, TFT panel suppliers are forecast to ship 718 million large area (9 and larger) panels in 2014, 3% Y/Y growth. Some panel price increases and growing average TV size will allow revenues to keep pace with units, growing 3% Y/Y to $75 billion.
2013 was the first year to see Y/Y declines in large area TFT LCD panel shipments and revenues, but the market rebound starting in Q214 has led panel makers to achieve most of their business plans, including larger size TV, 4K TV panels, notebook PC LCD modules and 9+ tablet PC panels. While 2013 was a year of convergence between inventory adjustments and panel value upgrades, in 2014 the market tightened as the inventory adjustments met increased demand.
The strong growth in average size and area in LCD TV led to a balancing of TFT LCD supply and demand, and even shortage, leading to panel price increases. LCD TV panel shipments reached 64M in Q214, a record high, showing the strong momentum downstream in preparing inventories. Another record was set in Q314, as shipments reached 65M.
Panel technology improvements include 4K, super-slim bezel, high transmittance open cell, high resolution, IPS/FFS, ultra-slim, light weight, and high color gamut, along with increased integration of up-scaling circuitry, touch screens, and mechanical parts. Beyond TFT LCD, shipments of AMOLED tablet PC panels with resolution of 280-360 ppi (pixels per inch) are expected to reach 5M units in 2014.
The table below summarises the growth trends in 2014; highlights include:
Panel makers conservative plans for notebook PC panels in 1H14 created a shortage during the year. In terms of technology, panel makers started upgrading to FHD and other high-resolution formats in 2013, adopting flat light guide plates in the backlight for ultra-slim panels. Slim and ultra-slim notebook PC panels comprised 75.9% of shipments in Q314.
Cannibalization by smartphones and maturation of smaller size tablet PCs have combined to shift tablet PCs to the larger sizes of 9+. AMOLED was successfully introduced in the tablet PC market with the higher color gamut feature, slim and light weight advantages and the future potential of flexible form factor design.
Shipments of LCD monitor panels fell to the lowest level since 2006, due to the maturity of the desktop PC market and the slow replacement cycle. Panel makers are planning to shift to larger sizes and add higher value products in new sizes and resolutions; panel makers are now focusing on 2560Χ1440 and 4K LCD monitors.
LCD TV shipment area will grow from 97 million square meters in 2013 to 112 million square meters in 2014, 15% Y/Y. Meanwhile, manufacturers are also planning to ship more than 20 million 4K TV panels in 2014.
Public display LCD is growing by 39% Y/Y, with the retreat of the PDP and strong momentum in digital signage. Meanwhile, industrial applications and the success of large screen automotive displays are growing rapidly. According to the Automotive Displays Report , 9 and larger automotive display panel shipment will grow from 940K in 2013 to approximately 2M in 2014. Some car makers are using large TFT LCDs to replace the instrument cluster, such as Audis TT, which uses a 12.3 AUO panel.
Chart below: Large-Area (9+) TFT LCD Panel Shipments