Global shipments of large LCD panels rose again in 2018, as did the sheer square footage of display footprint, says the research firm IHS Markit.
Despite concerns about over-supply in the market, area shipments increased by 10.6 percent to 197.9 million square meters compared to the previous year, driven by TV and monitor panels.
Fierce price competition in large 65- and 75-inch display panels was ignited as Chinese panel maker BOE started the mass production of the panels in 2018 at its B9 10.5-generation facility. “With BOE operating the 10.5-generation line, panel makers have become more aggressive on pricing since early 2018 to digest their capacity,” said Robin Wu, principal analyst at IHS Markit. “Large panels are still more profitable than smaller ones.”
Rising demand for gaming-PC and professional-purpose monitors boosted shipments of high-end, large panels. “Some panel makers have allocated more monitor panels to the fab, replacing existing TV panels, to make up for poor performance of that business,” Wu said.
Demand for other applications, which include public, automotive and industrial displays, recorded the highest growth rates of 17.5 percent by area and 28.6 percent by unit. “Panel makers view these applications as a new cash cow that can compensate for the sharp price erosion in main panels for TVs, monitors and notebook PCs,” Wu said.
LG Display led the area shipments of large display panels, with a 21 percent share in 2018, followed by BOE (17 percent) and Samsung Display (16 percent). BOE boasted the largest unit-shipment share of 23 percent, followed by LG Display (20 percent) and Innolux (17 percent), according to the Large Area Display Market Tracker by IHS Markit.
Large TFT LCD panel shipment growth is expected to continue in 2019. The preliminary forecast for unit shipments of three major products indicates that panel makers will continue to focus on the monitor and notebook PC panel businesses, increasing shipments by 5.3 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively, over the year, while shipments of TV panels are forecast to grow just 2.6 percent.
In 2019, three new 10.5-generation fabs – ChinaStar’s T6, BOE’s second fab and Foxconn/Sharp’s Guangzhou line – are expected to start mass production. All of them are assigned to manufacture TV panels, further boosting TV panel supply. “As the TV panel business is predicted to remain tough, panel makers, who enjoyed relatively better outcomes with monitor and notebook PC panels in 2018, will likely focus on the IT panel businesses,” Wu said.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than 13 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia.