Shipments of IGZO panels for tablets soared last year owing to Apple fully adopting this display solution for its 9.7-inch iPad Pro. The latest research from WitsView, a division of TrendForce, finds that the 2016 global shipments of IGZO tablet panels totaled 19.8 million units, registering a massive and above expected annual growth of 292%. As Apple will use the technology for the new iPad Pro, WitsView expects annual worldwide shipments of IGZO tablet panels to grow for the second consecutive year by 46%, totaling around 29 million units.
While the demand for IGZO tablet panels remains hot, WitsView also anticipates a tightening of supply during the second half of 2017. At present, the three major suppliers of IGZO panels are Japan’s Sharp and South Korea’s Samsung Display (SDC) and LG Display (LGD). However, SDC may exit from the IGZO panel market in the third quarter, when its Gen-5 fab L6 is scheduled for closure. This event would leave LGD and Sharp as the only suppliers during the second half of this year.
WitsView further believes that most of the limited supply of IGZO tablet panels this year will go to Apple for its iPad devices. Apple has steadily expanded the use of IGZO panels to its iPad models since 2015. For this year, Apple is going to release a 10.5-inch iPad Pro that is also expected to feature an IGZO display. Because of the addition of this new iPad Pro, WitsView estimates that Apple will capture more than 90% of the IGZO tablet panel shipments for this year, up from its last year’s shipment share of 83%.
Besides Apple, Microsoft also has been using IGZO panels for its Surface Pro series, starting with Surface Pro 4 in 2015. Microsoft is considering to deploy this display solution across its Surface Pro 5 devices that will hit the market this year. However, the limited supply could lead to fewer deliveries to Microsoft. According to WitsView, shipment share of IGZO tablet panels going to Microsoft is projected to contract from 17% for 2016 to less than 10% this year.