With the recent shifts in fab locations for panel production, 2Q11 saw China surpass Japan to take the third highest in volume for large-sized panels, globally. South Korea and Taiwan are still leading the panel producing areas, according to reports of recent studies as cited in DigiTimes on 6/15/11 and here by DisplaySearch.
According to the DisplaySearch research, the main thrust behind the rise in production in China is new production expansions for both 2H11 and 2012, particularly for Gen 6 and Gen 8 fabs. The Gen 6 and Gen 8 fabs have been and are slated to handle mini-note and tablet PC production, respectively.
The general panel production trending for China highlights the thrust of the shift:
"Large-area TFT LCD panel production by Chinese makers, including mini-note, tablet PC, notebook, monitor, and TV applications, was 3.3 million units per month in Q1’11, which is similar to the reported units per month from Japanese makers. However, China will increase to 4.1M units in Q2’11, while Japan is expected to fall to 2.3M units. China is also expected to be higher than Japan in unit production from Q3’11 to Q1’12."
The shift in panel production is not just geographic, the move by many to cater to the mini-note, smartphone and tablet PC sectors, because of the strong demand, is also significant. DisplaySearch published a separate report on the rise and forecasted trajectory for touch screens in March here. The findings for this earlier report underscore the importance of touch screens in the tablet PC market in shifting panel production trends (see also this EETimes review of the report as well as a detailed discussion of touch screen technologies).
According to the DisplaySearch research, the touch screen panel production market is segmented not only by type of panel but also along interesting geographic splits:
" The touch screen supply chain is evolving differently in each region, based on variations in touch screen technologies and customer needs. Taiwan suppliers are focusing on the overall value chain while expanding manufacturing capacity for touch panels. Following their success in mobile phones, Taiwanese suppliers are planning to achieve the same success with tablet PCs. In North America, Atmel, Synaptics, and IDT have announced new controller IC products for projected capacitive touch screens. Japanese suppliers have struggled to grow, due to the strength of the yen over other currencies. Several Japanese suppliers, such as Gunze and Suzutora, are expanding capacity of their ITO film lines."
With the touch screen market for tablets set to reach 60 million in 2011, there is good reason to dissect the panel production market and truly understand the supply shifts that are occurring.