Taiwan gaining dominance in world FPD market

By Billy Chamberlin, The China Post

Taiwan is quickly gaining global dominance in the flat panel display (FPD) industry thanks in part to the huge demand generated from PC manufacturers. As one of the world’s leading flat panel display consumers, the island is becoming one of the top FPD manufacturers as more and more Taiwan companies branch into the growing field.

Encouraging this trend, FPD Expo Taiwan 2001, one of the top three largest FPD expositions in Asia, will be held at Chiao Tung University in Hsinchu beginning June 20 and running through June 22, hoping to increase visibility for the island’s flat panel display industry. The need for small, lightweight displays for use in mobile phones, PDAs, notebook computers and a myriad of other communication devices, has caused the Taiwan FPD market to grow exponentially in the past few years, mostly due to strong demand for TFT-LCDs (thin film transistor-liquid crystal display). Taiwan’s total TFT-LCD revenues jumped 382 percent in 2000 to US$1.9 billion, boosting its share of the global TFT-LCD market from 2.9 percent in 1999 to 11.3 percent in 2000. With many computer manufacturers gradually shifting away from the more cumbersome cathode ray tube (CRT) displays that tend to occupy a majority of office desktop space, to space-saving flat panel displays, the number of Taiwan FPD material and equipment suppliers has grown as well, improving the island’s supply chain. Based on recent figures, analysts expect Taiwan’s share of the world’s total TFT-LCD manufacturing capacity to reach 28 percent in 2003. A huge jump considering the island barely comprised one percent of the global market in 1998. In addition to computer monitors, Taiwan witnessed a 724 percent growth in its global share of large screen TFT-LCD shipments from 1999 to 2000. While TFT-LCDs are found in most flat screen televisions and notebook computers thanks to their high resolution, the island is also witnessing increases in other flat panel display markets such as STN-LCDs (super twisted neumatic), usually found in calculators and PDAs; PDPs (plasma display panels), whose low resolution force them to be produced in sizes bigger than 40 inches and used in large conferences; and the latest flat panel technology, OELD (organic electro-luminescent display). Korea-based Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. and U.S.-based Eastman Kodak CO. have been working on OELD technology since 1999, but OELD has only recently found its way into a few products such as one of Motorola’s mobile phone models. The company has introduced the OELD screen in order to test consumer reaction. OELDs run US$40 to US$50 more than conventional TFT-LCD or STN-LCD screens, but the display’s self-luminescent does not require backlighting. According to K.C. Peng, a senior manager with SEMI Taiwan, this results in brighter and thinner screens which can viewed from all angles, and if popular, will allow the redesigning of mobile phones into even smaller and lighter proportions.