tablet researchWhether it’s 9.x-inch or 7.x-inch screen panels, tablet display shipments are booming this year. In a new report, IHS iSuppli forecasts that tablet display shipments will surge 56% higher year-over-year (YoY) in 2012, reaching 126.6 million units—that’s up from 82.1 million in 2011.

Tablet display shipments in the 9.x-inch category will total approximately 74.3 million units, 59% of the total, with iPad shipments dominating. YoY growth in 2012 9.x-inch tablet displays will reach 35%, up from 2011, when 9.x-inch tablet shipments totaled 55.2 million.

Shipments of 7.x-inch tablet displays will make up the second largest segment of the market in 2012, totaling 41.1 million units, almost double 2011’s 20.8 million, according to the latest research data from “IHS iSuppli Small and Medium Displays Service.”  Hence, tablets with 7.x-inch-screen panels will account for 32% of total tablet shipments in 2012 as compared to 26 last year.

Shipments of tablets with 8.x-inch and 5.x-inch-screen panels will make up the remainder of total shipments for 2012, accounting for a market share of approximately 9% and less than 1%, respectively.

The growing share of 7.x-inch-screen tablet displays will be helped by the launch of lower-priced tablets in the size segment, IHS iSuppli analysts say, along with rumors of Apple bringing a smaller iPad to market later this year.

“Media tablets increasingly are becoming the biggest growth driver in the market for the small and medium display market,” IHS director for Small & Medium Displays Vinita Jakhanwal elaborated. “While the 9-inch segment dominated by the iPad will account for the majority of tablet display shipments this year, the fastest-growing portion of the market will be the 7.x-inch screens used in products like the Galaxy Tab from Samsung Electronics, the Kindle Fire from Amazon, the Nook Tablet from Barnes & Noble, and other tablet products using the Google Android operating system.”

Tablet display shipments in 2Q recovered from a 1Q 2012 decline, when uptake from tablet device makers slowed 20% sequentially due to seasonal trends. Tablet device makers cleared inventories in 1Q and tablet device manufacturers raised orders in 2Q to prepare for new tablet introductions in the second half of the year. Total tablet panel shipments rose 30% sequentially in 2Q, reaching 27 million units, as a result.

South Korean manufacturers LG Display and Samsung Display were the two largest tablet display suppliers in 2012’s first quarter (1Q), accounting for 42% and 38% of the global market, respectively, according to IHS iSuppli. Both companies manufacture the liquid crystal displays (LCDs) for Apple’s iPads, which continue to dominate media tablet sales “with a commanding 58 percent of all tablets shipped in the first quarter.”

LG supplies tablet panels to Amazon and Barnes & Noble as well as Apple, while Samsung supplies panels to its own tablet division. Both are making new investments to increase capacity and upgrade manufacturing capabilities. The latter includes producing high-performance tablet panels and developing wide-viewing-angle technologies, in-plane switching (IPS) and fringe-field switching (FFS), IHS iSuppli analysts note. In addition, both LG Display and Samsung Display are working to convert amorphouse silicon-fabs to those that manufacture oxide silicon panels that help improve tablet panel resolution, power consumption and overall performance.

Japanese tablet display manufacturers including Sharp, Japan Display and Panasonic, along with others, are increasing their investments in the fast-growing tablet display market segments, according to IHS iSuppli. Taiwanese tablet display suppliers, such as AU Optronics and ChiMei Innolux, are reportedly adjusting their business models–”some to focus on tablets for the education sector, and others to support tablets for the white-box market in China.”

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