Tag: panels

Panasonic packs in LCD panels

panasonicPanasonic has given up making LCD panels for televisions because the price competition.

The pullout from TV LCD manufacturing follows the company’s withdrawal from plasma TV production three years ago.

Panasonic has been making liquid crystal display panels for TVs at its Himeji factory in western Japan since 2010. Company executives are now planning to end production of the parts by September.

It  says it will continue to manufacture LCD panels at the plant for products other than televisions, such as medical equipment and cars.

But it says cuts in output will lead to transfer of hundreds of workers to other factories or offices, out of about 1,000 currently employed at the plant.

However it says ir will keep making Panasonic-brand televisions, using panels supplied by other manufacturers.
The move leaves Sharp and its Taiwanese parent firm Hon Hai as the only producer in the land of the Rising Sun.
Panasonic said that its executives are trying to streamline operations to focus more on profit, rather than scale of sales.

AMOLED now cheaper than LCD

amoled-vs-lcdWhile optics experts have been singing the praises of AMOLED technology over LCD for a while now, the only thing that has been holding it back was the production costs.

According to IHS Technology it has only taken 24 months for AMOLED production costs to fall below that of LCD. Production costs in the first quarter for a five inch Full HD smartphone display are $14.30 for an AMOLED panel and $14.60 for an LCD display.

These figures are based on production costs of a  Low Temperature Poly-Silicon Liquid Crystal Display LTPS LCD which is the most efficient type of Thin Film Transistor (TFT) LCD. While there is no data available on the production cost of QHD displays, Full HD is still the standard display definition for the vast majority of smartphone screens.

With AMOLED production costs dropping below LCD for the first time, AMOLED panels will soon become the default display technology choice for manufacturers on their mid-range and entry-level devices as well. While this may not directly signal the end for LCD screens in the smartphone space.

It might be that now that they are so cheap Apple might install them on its iPhone, charge an arm and leg for it claiming it invented it.

Panel market hit by notebook slump

Samsung LCDManufacturers of LCD panels for the IT and other markets are feeling despondent because there are precious little signs that people are buying.

Generally speaking, the second quarter of the year is a healthy one for the manufacturers as companies gear up their offerings for the third and fourth calendar quarters.

But, according to a survey from Trendforce, that doesn’t seem to be happening.

The survey showed that for the notebook sector there’s no demand for panels even given the traditionally healthy back to school sales. Nor has the industry see demand for Windows 10 generate additional orders.

In fact, there’s a glut of inventory in the channel, meaning that prices for panels have actually fallen in June.

Sales of monitors are not helping the panel manufacturers either. Trendview said there was a “significant” decline in shipments in the first quarter this year, and the second and third quarter look to be gloomy too. Here too prices have dropped.

The other sector that generates profits for the manufacturers are TV panels but there’s a price war there, particularly on the popular 32-inch size.

4K TV panel sales go through the roof

old-school-tvUS analyst company IHS has confirmed other reports about the future of 4K TV – the technology is going through a boom period right now and into 2016.

In case you don’t get the picture, 4K ultra HD televisions can show as many as eight million pixels per screen compared to two million for 1080p Full HD.

IHS said that in 2016, one of five TVs will use 4K TV panels – that’s down to people wanting high definition images as well as better production from the companies that make the panels.

And, according to senior analyst Linda Lin, prices of the panels began to fall in 2014 and earlier this year. She said most TV brands now have 4K UHD products.

South Korean companies are now leading the race to produce panels with LG Display and Samsung the biggest manufacturers worldwide.

IHS said shipments of 4K TV panels were over three million units in April this year – that’s 14 percent of all TV panels.

Foxconn considers solar panel move

Foxconn, the popular company that has to put nets under its taller buildings to stop workers from jumping, has decided that its contract with Apple might not be worth as much in the long term.

The company, which makes Apple’s iPhones, is mulling over a branch off into making solar panels.

The solar panel market has been plagued by overcapacity and panel prices have tumbled by more than two-thirds over the past two years.

The move might be jolly clever – as the sector is showing some signs of stabilising.

Foxconn has been testing the market for two years but has revealed little about its Fox Energy solar unit. It currently has a small solar panel factory in eastern China, and has also held talks with the southwestern province of Guangxi about building solar power plants.

Foxconn’s Simon Hsing told Reuters that the company will decide wheter it wants to enter the market by the end of this year.

Hsing remarked that renewable energy is a “potentially good trend”, adding it’s “an industry we probably need to know more about”.

The company does feel that it needs to cut its reliance on Apple, which accounted for an estimated 60 percent of Hon Hai revenue that exceeded $100 billion last year.

As demonstrated by its Apple contract, Foxconn has assembly efficiency, cost-control and an international reach on its side, which it could probably apply to solar production too.

PV wafer prices to slump further in 2012

Photovoltaic wafer prices dropped dramatically in the first quarter of 2012, falling over 70 percent in a year,

IMS Research points out that the sharp drop was a symptom of a heavy global oversupply, and in turn, it has forced module suppliers to consider buying in their wafer supplies from third parties rather than in-house. This is in stark contrast to 2010 and 2011 where a significant chunk of the suppliers were working on bolstering in house wafer capacities. Wafer prices have dropped by roughly $0.70/W to reach record lows.

Compared to the first quarter of 2011, when average wafer prices were over $1/W, at the beginning of 2012 they were just $0.30/W. The solar industry is big business, and an enormously competitive market place – caused by capacity expansions that outweighed 2011’s demand – forced an oversupply which lead to the cost reductions.

IMS Research noted that global PV wafer capacity grew 50 percent to reach a total of 50 GW by the end of 2011. Installation demand, however, grew 35 percent to reach 26.9 GW, a clear split.

Polysilicon, cell, and module prices fell throughout 2011, declining by 48 percent, 57 percent, and 44 percent respectively in the first quarter of 2012 compared to 2011.

Rather than taking a beating, suppliers have been focusing intently on how to cut costs to achieve profits. Senior market analyst at IMS, Sam Wilkinson, said that the large Chinese PV module suppliers were looking for 100 percent vertical integration in 2010 and 2011, so expanded their in house wafer capacities. Now, though, many suppliers have figured out it’s cheaper to buy wafers than producing them at their own facilities.

Because of this change in manufacturing strategies, and by making the most of low wafer prices, a lot of suppliers have actually improved their cost structures. For  example, Wilkinson points out, Chinese tier-1  supliers managed to improve cost structures by $0.05/W – not a number to be sniffed at considering the industry’s climate. “With many suppliers renogatiating their polysilicon sipply contracts and also improving their polysilicon purchase costs, suppliers will certainly need to remain flexible in their manufacturing operations in 2012,” Wilkinson said.

Prices for both wafers and polysilicon are expected to drop even further throughout the year. IMS predicts that the average wafer price will have fallen by 25 percent by the end of 2012, compared to the same quarter in 2011. Polysilicon prices will fall at a faster rate, dropping by 33 percent by 2012’s end.

IHS buys Displaybank

Technology analyst house IHS has bought another market research company, Displaybank, which will help it spread into consulting for the flat panel display industry.

The buy is also IHS’ first buy of an APAC based company. With its headquarters in Korea, Displaybank has been pretty well positioned to keep an eye on the ebb and flow of panel supply. It also has offices in Taiwan, China, Japan and the US.

As you would expect, Displaybank’s role is despatching an army of beancounters to look over the markets with fine tooth combs. Companies then pay it lots of money for advisory. Many of the electronics industry’s biggest players have their fingers in some panel-related pie. Whether it’s selling tellies or factories at full capacity, IHS knows it can convince businesses to hand over lots of money for its reports. IHS claims that flat panel execs and decision makers would be lost without Displaybank, and that is thanks to its “strong primary footprint” in Asia.

There is some opportunity to take a closer look at semiconductor specific based research in the region for it too, IHS thinks.

IHS chief exec Jerre Stead said the Asia Pacific region is “critical to our company’s growth”. Last year, IHS bought semiconductor supply chain analysts, iSuppli.


Samsung spins off loss-making LCD business

Korean electronics giant Samsung Electronics has announced it will be spinning off its LCD business into an ‘affiliate’ while increasing its focus on OLED-based displays.

The move comes only a couple of months after it took over Sony’s share in its LCD joint-venture and a few days after announcing a $666 million loss for 2011, said Reuters. With business analysts predicting a bigger slowdown of LCD consumption in 2012, and increasingly low product margins, the fate of the loss-posting division has been cautiously excised from the company’s global fortunes, for now.

Tentatively named ‘Samsung Display Co. Ltd.’, the unit will launch on April Fools’ Day and will be left with an equal amount of cash in its pocket – $666 million – to fend off for its self. If you’re a cynic, you’ll think this little exercise in creative accounting is Samsung giving the business a one year chance to turn its fate around.

However, changes at the mothership are not expected to stop there. Among several working theories, Samsung Electronics may or may not merge the LCD subsidiary with its Mobile Display subsidiary, Samsung SMD, thereby concentrating all display businesses under one single unit.

This will be left up to the market, we believe, and how the LCD business will hold up on its own in the coming months.

While OLED, Samsung’s crown jewel, is far from mainstream, the transition from LCD to LED and then to OLED has been a bumpy one. It isn’t a surprise that Samsung management is cutting its risks. As we said earlier this month.

Amazon leans on Fire supply chain

Taiwanese OEM Quanta Computer is really ramping production for Amazon’s first full-on tablet, the Kindle Fire. 

Amazon, according to Digitimes’ sources in the supply chain, is telling its manufacturers to get their skates on.

It wants shipments to hit five million units as early as the end of December, or the beginning of January. Clearly Amazon is expecting the Fire to be a big hit.

Touch panel supplier Wintek has also pushed its forecast up and is estimated to be shipping up to 3.5 million of its panels to Amazon before the end of the year.

Others have been building up their component inventory at a careful pace.

Quanta, according to Digitimes has been taking the steady-steady approach in keeping shipments regular, just in case Amazon changes its mind about the orders.

LG 3D TV boast irks Sony down under

Sony and rival LG are arguing Down Under because of a study, sponsored by LG, which claimed its TVs were better than the competition.

Sony is demanding LG ceases its advertising based on the study. However, it is being tight lipped about whether it will seek legal action, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.  LG, formerly the naff-sounding LuckyGoldstar, is already in a bit of trouble with other mega-rival Samsung because it claimed its TVs were brighter. 

In a test reminiscent of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, LG set up some unbranded 3D tellies at shopping centres across Oz. It found that of the 4,000 consumers who had a play, 82 percent allegedly plumped for LG’s Cinema 3D TV. The other TVs were from Samsung and Sony. 

Sony was up in arms about the campaign, particularly when it found out LG’s marketing manager announced that it’d be the main focus of a new marketing push. The ‘Herald managed to get a copy of a letter sent from Sony’s legal team to LG. In it, it says LG’s big idea contains “a number of misleading representations.” Sony hasn’t had a formal reply from LG yet.

LG insists that the survey was independent and carried out through TNS Global. A spokesperson told the Herald that LuckyGoldstar “has confidence” in the results and that the claims stand up. 

Meanwhile, Samsung said its 3D tellies hold the majority of the market, so it’s not really worrying. 

All are determined to win the 3D battle despite the technology, which requires clunky glasses no matter which way you look at it, sits in its infancy – and the response from consumers is a collective long sigh.