The market for LCD panels for IT applications (monitors and notebooks) was generally quite sluggish during 2015. There was also a lack of interesting products that could stimulate replacement activities. According to the latest large-size LCD panel shipment report from WitsView, a division of TrendForce, global shipments of monitor panels for 2015 fell 11% year on year to 142.2 million units. Global shipments of notebook panels were also down 8% from 2014 to 176.1 million units.
AUO overtook Innolux to become the No. 2 supplier of monitor panels
WitsView’s report indicates that in-plane switching (IPS) technology stood out as one of few specification features that monitor vendors were able to use to differentiate their products during the slump in 2015.
South Korea’s LG Display (LGD), which has a technological edge in manufacturing IPS panels, shipped 41.5 million units of monitor panels in 2015, holding on to almost 30% of the global market. By maintaining a large shipment lead over the Taiwanese panel makers, LGD was ranked the top supplier of monitor panels for the year.
Taiwan’s AU Optronics (AUO) beat its compatriot Innolux to become the No. 2 supplier of monitor panels for 2015 with 26 million units shipped. AUO’s success was attributed to having products for every segment of the monitor market, from the high-end to the low-end.
Last year, Innolux encountered difficulties in its efforts to promote monitor panels featuring vertical alignment (VA) technology. The panel makers also faced strong competition from Chinese rivals in its main product segments. Hence, Innolux’s monitor panel shipments for 2015 plummeted 28% year on year to just 25.5 million units. It slid to No. 3 in the shipment ranking.
BOE Technology (BOE) was ranked No. 4 in monitor panel shipments with 20.1 million units. BOE’s monitor product mix strategy for last year reflected an emphasis on mainstream size segments, such as the 18.5-inch and the 21.5-inch.
Samsung Display Corp. (SDC) shifted towards the high-end of the monitor market. Hence, the panel maker ended up in the fifth place with 19.8 million units shipped.
BOE’s notebook panel shipments grew despite market headwinds
WitsView has found that notebook panel shipments for 2015 depended mainly on the dealings between panel makers and notebook vendors since the differences among panel sizes in the notebook application is not as noticeable as in the monitor application.
LGD’s notebook panel shipments for 2015 reached 46.6 million units, accounting for 26.5% of the global market. By strengthening its relationships with U.S. notebook vendors, LGD retained its title as the No. 1 notebook supplier worldwide.
Innolux’s notebook panel shipments were weak last year because the global notebook panel market suffered rising inventories in the mainstream-size segments. Though the panel maker kept its second-place position in the ranking, its shipments fell 17% year on year to just 41.1 million units. Among the top five suppliers of notebook panels, Innolux had the largest shipment decline in 2015.
AUO has kept up with the trend towards HD displays in the notebook market and quickly shifted to producing Full HD notebook panels. It has also been ahead of its competitors in the development of on-cell touch panel (OTP) technology. The Taiwanese panel maker therefore came in third in the notebook panel shipment ranking for 2015 with a total of 36.7 million units.
By contrast, SDC’s strategy in this application market was more conservative. SDC’s notebook panel shipments for 2015 stood at 30.3 million units. The relatively average performance put the South Korean panel maker in the fourth place of the ranking.
With its expanded capacity, BOE began aggressively courting U.S. notebook clients in the second half of 2015. Though BOE remained in the fifth place in the ranking, it was the only suppliers among the top five that saw growth in the downbeat market environment. The Chinese panel maker shipped 15 million units of notebook panels in total, up 9% from 2014.