Rodney Chan, DIGITIMES, Taipei [Wednesday 19 January 2011]
The touch panel market has been expanding fast since the Apple iPhone launch captivated the world with its touchscreen magic. According to Digitimes Research analyst, Jason Yang - the author of the Special Report, "Greater China touch panel market" - touch panel shipments will grow at a CAGR of 18.3% from 2009-2013, with makers from China and Taiwan dominating the market.
Q: How fast will the touch panel market grow in the next few years? What will be the biggest applications for large-size and small- to medium-size touch panels?
A: Touch panel shipments will increase at a CAGR of 18.3% from 2009-2013. The small- to medium-size segment (under 10 inches but including 10-inch tablet devices) and the large-size segment (10-inch and above, but excluding 10-inch table devices) will see a CAGR of 18.8% and 6.9% respectively in the period. In terms of shipment value, the overall CAGR will be 15.7%, while the small- to medium-size and large-size segments will have a CAGR of 18.6% and 7.5% in the period.
Large-size touch panels are mostly used in industrial and enterprise applications, while small- to medium-size touch panels are chiefly found in handsets. In the large-size segment, industrial and enterprise applications' share in terms of both unit shipments and value will grow to 75% in 2013. In the small- to medium-size segment, handset applications will account for 72.6% of total shipments and 45.8% of the value in 2013. The share of value is lower than the share of shipments because handset-use touch panels are smaller and mostly adopt the resistive type, and therefore the ASP is relatively low.
Q: Resistive touch has been the mainstream in recent years. Will the situation change, and why? What is the potential for other technologies?
A: In the large-size segment, resistive touch will continue to be the mainstream in industrial and enterprise applications because of its low cost. Although optical touch's share will increase because of growing popularity of all-in-one PCs, resistive touch will still account for 61.9% of large-size touch panel shipments in 2013, with a 37.9% share of shipment value.
But in the small- to medium-size segment, more capacitive touch panels are being adopted for handsets. Capacity touch is also the dominant type for tablet devices. Capacity touch's shipment value already surpassed that of resistive in 2010, and capacitive touch's unit shipments will exceed those of resistive in 2013.
Q: China-based touch panel makers have a high market share, but they mostly supply lower-end products. Is the situation changing? How good is the chance of China-based makers breaking into the supply chain of international vendors?
A: China's touch panel makers still ship mostly to the domestic market - both brand and white-box vendors. But they have also entered the supply chain of international brands through such EMS players as Foxconn and BYD. Some touch panel makers specialize in touch sensors for use in touch modules produced by Taiwan-based makers. Such a situation in China is unlikely to change in the short term. Although China's touch panel makers have been trying to improve their technology, they will continue to see the majority of their products going to the domestic vendors.
Digitimes Research analyst Jason Yang
Photo: Digitimes archive