Tablets appear to be singlehandedly driving the global market for large-area liquid-crystal display (LCD) panels this year, mitigating the losses from most other sectors of the LCD space, according to an “LCD Shipment Database” report from IHS Inc.
Worldwide LCD shipments for tablet panels so far for the first three quarters of 2013 amounted to 186.6 million units, up a remarkable 94 percent from 96.2 million during the same three-quarter period last year. As the most vigorous of the four major applications for LCD panels, tablets are working alongside a modestly growing TV panel space to make up for large declines in desktop PC monitors and notebooks, the two weakest LCD sectors.
The great gains made by tablet LCD panel shipments this year explain why total LCD panel shipments for the first three quarters are up 8 percent to 628.3 million units, a respectable increase from 581.2 million units for the same time last year.
LCD panel shipments for the TV sector are also up from January to the end of September, reaching 172.2 million units, or a 4 percent rise from 165.6 million last year.
Compared to the two gainers, the monitor and notebook LCD panel segments are running double-digit deficits. Aggregate LCD panel shipments for monitors amount to 121.5 million units, down 10 percent from 135.5 million. Notebooks fared even worse at 140.6 million units, down a precipitous 20 percent from 174.9 million.
Tablets rule the LCD panel realm
The strength of the tablet sector can be verified by some notable statistics. Although tablet panel shipments dipped in the second quarter this year compared to the first, it is the only sector in which shipments for every quarter of 2013 are up from their corresponding levels a year ago in 2012.
The tablet space is also the lone sector to post any kind of increase in the third quarter compared to the second. In contrast, all three other applications lost ground during this time, normally considered a strong period for sales and shipments.
Tablets have continued to run high in popularity among consumers three years after Apple introduced the first media tablet device in the form of the iPad. Since then, tablets have eroded the share of computers in general including notebook PCs, taking down the monitor market as well. TV panels, meanwhile, have managed to remain resilient amidst a maturing market.
Results are muted overall despite growth
Overall, the third quarter this year proved somewhat disappointing as shipments grew at lower-than-expected levels, on both a sequential basis and a year-over-year reckoning. The quarter’s 3 percent growth was effectively lower than half of the 8 percent enjoyed in the third quarter of 2012.
All attention is now turning to the significant fourth quarter, the busiest time for consumer and retail sales throughout the world because of the holidays. Most signs indicate that shipments in the fourth quarter will be up from the third by about 5 percent, but volume will only show 0.6 percent growth from the same period last year.
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