MANHASSET, NY -- Shipments of small- and medium-sized display panels fell for the second straight month in May, another data point from market research firm IHS iSuppli pointing to tablets taking over where once cell phones and other consumer devices prevailed.
SMD panels range in size from 1.0 inches to 9 in. with nearly all of them using liquid crystal display technology.
IHS reported a 6.9 percent decline in April. In May shipments of SMD displays from major suppliers in South Korea and Taiwan fell to 187.1 million units, down 4.2 percent from 195.3 million units during the earlier month.
“SMD demand in May was impacted by declining sales to the cell phone market—the leading application for such displays—along with other key areas, including digital still cameras and portable navigation devices,” said Vinita Jakhanwal, director for small and medium displays at IHS, in a statement. “The only exception was the tablet market, where demand continued to exceed supply.”
Along with their high shipment growth, tablet displays command a relatively high price compared to SMDs in other applications. This is because of their high specifications required for advanced performance. Taiwanese vendors will start mass-producing for Apple iPad panels starting in the third quarter, while Korean vendors have aggressive plans for capacity expansion to meet demand for PC-type tablets, such as Hewlett-Packard’s TouchPad.
Fearing possible component shortages after the Japan quake disaster in early March, branded vendors and channels pulled in SMD shipments ahead of time to bolster stocks. However, with inventory in the channel building up and in light of endemic weak demand, panel shipments could not recover and declined in April and May. The uncertain picture in Europe, with rising inflation and sovereign debt issues, was also a contributing factor to the SMD panel decline in general during the period.