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Commentary: Panel makers need to be more active in developing products
Alex Wolfgram, DIGITIMES, Taipei [Friday 4 July 2014]

Panel makers need to take a more active role in developing technology and products that applications can be based around and not the other way around. Sharp's Free Form Display is an example of how new innovative panel applications can spur demand and help expand the maker's business model.

In the case of Sharp, its Free Form Display has the ability to attract customers in the vehicle and home segments where demand is expected to increase the most over the next couple of years. The displays can be used in vehicles to fit a variety of different sizes, shapes and usage, which is something unique and at the same time brings value to customers.

In the home segment, Free Form Display could be used all over ranging from bathroom, kitchen and garage facilities where many home builders are eyeing increased business opportunities to include smart home features. The displays could also be used in bedroom and living room arranagements where space may be uniquely set up and limited.

In the business segement, such displays could be used to replace clocks, menus, calendars and many other devices that display information. The displays can be built into existing structures rarther than being placed on or added to existing peripherals, and would take up less space.

All of these applications could also be connected through smart systems controlled through other display devices including tablets and smartphones, as they could include Wi-Fi and cellular options for increased access and mobility control. This would give an edge over other competitors in the smart home and connected device segments as well as solidify new business opportunities.

Panel makers have the opportunity to take a more leading role in creating technology and implementing it into the market to create their own business opportunities rather than being subject to waiting for business opportunities to arise. On top of that, and perhaps more importantly, panel makers should treat their products as devices that can help or create convenience in peoples' lives and promote them differently in the form of devices either via in-house methods or in conjunction with other companies. This is an active apporach that makers should take in order to stay strong in the market, particularly as most panel applications are maturing quickly in the market.

The bottom line is that there needs to be more thought into creating how new technology can take a leading role into developing new segments and applications rather than being subject to the changes. In the case of Taiwan makers who currently face competition in technology from Korea and Japan and disadvantages in pricing from China, considering such options could help rectify their business models and lead to more sustaining development.

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