by Raghu Das, CEO, IDTechEx
LCD panel makers in Taiwan, Japan and Korea have been suffering. Despite the growing demand for LCDs the high number of panel makers and new competition from China has resulted in tough price competition for panel makers, to the point that many panel makers are no longer profitable. In 2012, Samsung Electronics moved their LCD business units into a separate entity. One report suggests that the Taiwanese have invested $60 Billion in the LCD industry and seen a return of just $40 Billion. Some Japanese makers, despite having superb technology, have seen recent losses in some cases equal cumulative profits of the preceeding 5 to 10 years. Restructuring is therefore afoot. In the last few weeks Samsung purchased a 3% stake in Sharp. Japan Display Inc (JDI), puts together small and mid sized LCD panel manufacture units from Sony, Hitachi and Toshiba, focusing on automotive, cellphone and digital camera displays (not TV). Meanwhile, the Chinese are quickly moving into LCD panel production. For many years the top five in the LCD business, in order, were Samsung, LG Display, Innolux, AUO and Sharp. Now, as evidence of China's progress, in late 2012 Chinese BOE is number 5 for notebooks and monitors and China Star (CSOT) number five for TVs.