There's been a lot of fuss about LED backlighting the past year, but even so, LED-backlit LCD monitors won't make a major push into the mainstream until much later this year and into 2011, DigiTimes' "market sources" say.
Part of reason for this is because notebooks and LCD TVs are gobbling up most of the current LED inventory. There just hasn't been enough LED inventory to fulfill demand from monitor panel makers.
The other barrier comes down to price. Sources say the price gap between an 18.5-inch LED-backlit and CCFL-backlit monitor panel comes down to about $5, and while that doesn't sound like much, it translates into a retail price difference of about $30 to $50. That's enough to turn consumers' heads in a different direction.
We're still not ready to declare e-book readers the second coming of netbooks (in terms of popularity), but there's no doubt the fad is taking off. And in 2010, demand for larger screen e-book readers measuring 9.7 inches is expected to soar up to 320 percent on year, says Digitimes Research.
Impressive? Sure. Concerning? Only if you're Prmie View International (PVI), who despite acquiring E Ink, the company behind the e-paper displays on the Kindle and Sony e-book lineup, earlier this year may face a capacity shortage and not be able to keep up with demand.
PVI chairman Scott Liu noted high demand for 9.7-inch e-book readers, and as such, his company will focus on shipments of larger-size 7-, 8-, and 9.7-inch e-book panels in 2010.
As for the readers themselves, Amazon's Kindle measures 6 inches, while the Kindle DX utilizes a 9.7-inch display. BenQ is expected to launch a 6-inch model in January 2010, followed by a 9-inch model in the second half of 2010.
You've probably seen a handful of big screen LED-backlit LCD televisions the last time you strolled through the TV section in your local electronics store, and in 2010, you'll be seeing a lot more of them, says iSupply.
More specifically, the market research firm says global LED-backlit TV shipments for 40-inch and larger models will jump nearly 8x in 2010 to 18.8 million units, up from 2.5 million units in 2009. iSupply attributes the nearly eight-fold increase to consumer demand, a push for green technologies, and a willingness by various parts of the TV supply chain to oblige on both of these accounts.
"Panel makers have been investing heavily in LED chip makers or have been developing their own internal technologies in order to take advantage of what they believe LED-backlit TVs bring to the table: differentiation, innovation, low power consumption, and of course the potential to reap the benefits of higher revenues," said Riddhi Patel, principal analyst for TV systems at iSupply.
Looking beyond next year, iSupply says LED-backlit LCD TVs in the 40-inch or larger category will explode to 112.1 million units in 2013, by then claiming 83.2 percent of the market. By comparison, large screen LED-backlit LCD TVs claim just 6 percent of the market currently.
The site's sources went on to name iPhone-display supplier Wintek as the company Apple may call upon to lessen Innolux's burden. Foxconn Group subsidiaries seem to be in the thick of things as far as Apple's tablet is concerned. G-Tech Optoelectronics, another Foxconn subsidiary, will reportedly provide a glass strengthening process for the tablet's display.
The report goes as far as claiming that Apple delayed the launch of the tablet until the first quarter of 2010 as it wanted more time to optimize the strength of the tablet's display.
Linux gurus will talk all day about the security benefits of their open-source kernel over Microsoft's proprietary Windows platform, but can Linux do multitouch like Windows 7? Why yes, yes it can, though it takes a little handiwork on the part of the end user.
Most Linux distros don't yet support multitouch screens out of the box, but that doesn't matter, because France's ENAC Interactive Computing Lab has put together a video demonstrating multitouch on a PC running Fedora 12 on what looks to be be a 10-inch touchscreen display.
According to Liliputing.com, it's made possible by combining the Linux kernel 2.6.31 with a modified version of X.org 1.7. Sprinkle in supported hardware and drivers, and you suddenly have a Linux machine able to perform the same multitouch tricks as Windows 7.
Check out the video (complete with a groovy background tune) here.
It's too early to say the OLED revolution has begun, but it's probably a safe bet that you'll see a lot more OLED products in 2010, at least if the end of 2009 is any indication. According to research firm DisplaySearch, worldwide OLED revenues "shattered its previous record" climbing to $252 million in Q3 2009, up 31 percent from the previous quarter.
DisplaySearch attributes much of the growth to Samusng, who the firm says maintained its strong lead in OLED shipments and captured 73 percent of the AMOLED revenue market share.
"While the mobile phone industry continues to suffer as a result of the economy, Samsung’s marketing initiatives have propelled high-end AMOLED mobile phone demand to new heights," noted Hiroshi Hayase, DisplaySearch Director of Small/Medium Displays. "The company is forecast to maintain its lead in mobile displays in 2010."
Not doing so hot is PMOLED, which DisplaySearch says didn't grow from 2008 to 2008, largely the result of the shift from clam-shell type phones that use PMOLED to higher-end smartphones that use OLED.
Sources from panel makers say there's a shortage of LCD monitors, a problem they attribute to monitor makers and brand vendors having lower-than-usual panel inventory levels, news and rumor site DigiTimes reports.
The sources note that panel makers were expecting a low fourth quarter and took to reducing output, but are now being caught off guard by a flurry of orders now that panel prices have dropped below cost levels.
A panel shortage doesn't bode well for the mobile market, which is expected to ship a ton of notebooks going into 2010. This has notebook makers scrambling to secure LED supplies as they compete with LCD TV makers for inventory. LED-backlit LCD TV shipments are expected to increase six-fold to more than 30 million units in 2010, with LED-backlit notebooks expected to account for 80 percent of the 160 million notebooks (not counting netbooks) to be shipped next year.
Thanks in part to native support in Windows 7 and falling LCD panel pricing (price fixing allegations notwithstanding), the time is right for touch technology to really take off on the desktop. Enter Chunghwa Picture Tubes (CPT), the Taiwan-based panel maker who just launched a 21.5-inch projected capacitive touch panel.
Details remain pretty sparse, but according to Wolf Chen, VP of CPT, the 21-5-inched panel is currently being validated by clients. But that's not all the company has been up to. CPT said it has also started shipping 10.1-inch projective capacitive touch panels and 3D panels.
The company isn't putting all its eggs into one capacitive basket, however, and is also developing touch panels using two other technologies, including optical touch and in-cell photo sensing. Panels built around these two technologies will start shipping in early 2010, the company says.
Who knows how much artificially inflated LCD panel pricing ended up costing consumers in the long run, but for Chi Mei Optoelectronics (CMO), the company's alleged involvement in the antitrust case brought on by the U.S. Department of Justice will cost it $220 million, the amount of the plea agreement.
Under terms of the agreement, CMO will pay the fine in installments over a period of five years. In addition to forking over $220 million, the panel maker has also agreed to cooperate with the DOJ's ongoing investigation
Allegations of price fixing in the LCD industry have received a fair amount of attention the past couple of years. In 2008, several LCD makers were charged with artificially inflating panel prices, which ultimately led to LG, Sharp, and Chungwa agreeing to plead guilty and pay a total of $585 million in fines. And more recently, Nokia called shenanigans on Samsung, LG, AU Optronics, and other LCD manufacturers, all of which Nokia is suing for allegedly colluding to fix prices.
Coming as somewhat of a surprise, Kodak announced it is selling all the assets of its OLED business to a group of LG companies.
OLED technology hasn't yet hit its stride, but is gaining steam, particularly in the handheld market, as prices continue to come down. Kodak, however, isn't turning its back on OLED completely. Through a signed cross-license agreement with LG, the company will still have access to OLED technology, and both will have broad access to each other's patent portfolio, TGDaily reports.
As part of the license agreement, Kodak will also receive royalties, through the company didn't say how much. This and other financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.