After struggling in 2011 with a challenging market environment, due to sliding demand and price erosion, 2012 marks a year of recovery for the flat panel display (FPD) industry.
According to the latest market study by NPD DisplaySearch, worldwide FPD revenues will reach $120 billion in 2012 -- that's up 8 percent from $111 billion in 2011, and exceeding 2010 revenues.
Among the various FPD technologies, TFT LCD accounts for the majority of revenues at $107.7 billion in 2012, up from $99.4 billion in 2011. However, AMOLED displays once again showed the strongest Y/Y growth, as manufacturing capacity and market players continue to expand.
However, with the exception of LCOS (liquid crystal on silicon, a form of microdisplay) all other display technologies, including plasma and passive matrix forms of LCD and OLED, are declining in 2012. In a sharp reversal, AMEPD (active matrix electrophoretic display), which is used in monochrome e-readers, swung from strong growth in 2011 to even stronger decline in 2012, due to competition from TFT LCD-based tablet PCs.
The display industry suffered in 2011, as revenues fell 5 percent Y/Y to $111 billion, due to price erosion in TFT LCD panels, especially for TV applications. The 2011 decline in FPD revenues was only the second time in the history of the industry, and was also notable for the fact that the absolute value of TFT LCD revenues fell below $100 billion.
The forecast revenue increase of 8 percent in 2012 is based on several factors, including increasing average sizes and shipments of LCD TVs, higher prices for high-resolution mobile displays for applications such as smart phones and tablet PCs, strong unit growth of tablet PCs, expansion of AMOLED shipments and applications, thin and light ultra-slim notebook PC panels, emerging 4K×2K LCD TVs, and growth of demand from applications including games, car navigation systems, and digital signage.
"There are still concerns for the outlook of the FPD industry, as high levels of saturation have been attained in several major markets," said David Hsieh, Vice President at NPD DisplaySearch.
However, the supply chain has found ways to increase the value proposition of FPDs by focusing on technology enhancements: higher resolution for mobile devices, larger screen sizes, thinner and lighter versions for mobile PCs, wide viewing angle performance, and other functions such as touch screens.
While the industry faces challenges in traditional applications such as plasma TVs and mainstream sizes of LCD TVs and desktop monitors, the addition of new features and lower prices are driving growth of applications such as tablet PCs and smartphones.