The massive rise in market demand for notebook computers in response to distance learning needs and WFH applications from 2020 to 2021 has generated not only a double-digit growth in notebook panel shipment, but also a price hike of more than 40% for notebook panels, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. As various suppliers subsequently scramble to manufacture OLED, LTPS, and oxide panels, TrendForce forecasts these high-end notebook panels to reach a 17.8% market share in 2021 and 21.4% in 2022.
Panels based on OLED technology are primarily supplied by SDC, whose OLED notebook panel shipment for 2020 reached 800,000 pcs. SDC is expected to ship more than four million pcs of OLED notebook panels in 2021, with room for further growth in 2022. In addition to SDC, EDO is also expected to begin mass producing OLED notebook panels in 2H21-1H22. As such, TrendForce expects OLED panels to reach a 1.3% penetration rate in the overall notebook panel market this year. Although BOE and CSOT are currently fully engaged in Hybrid OLED development, Hybrid OLED panels will not enter mass production until 2023 due to technological and cost-related bottlenecks that are yet to be resolved.
The top three suppliers of LTPS panels are, in order, AUO, CSOT, and Tianma. Thanks to such advantages as low power consumption and narrow borders, LTPS panels are widely used in high-end notebook computers. In the overall notebook panel market, LTPS panels are expected to reach a penetration rate of 3.7% this year. With regards to LTPS suppliers, AUO will likely expand its L6K fab’s production capacity of LTPS notebook panels in 2022. Innolux, on the other hand, currently allocates the LTPS production capacity in its Luzhu-based panel fab primarily for smartphone displays. Innolux is expected to mass produce LTPS panels for notebooks some time in 2H21. CSOT and Tianma will likewise gradually increase the share of LTPS notebook panels in their overall panel production in spite of their lack of capacity expansion plans at the moment.
Finally, oxide panels are primarily supplied by LGD, Sharp, and BOE. Much like LTPS panels, oxide panels have the advantage of low power consumption and narrow borders. However, oxide panels are relatively more cost-competitive compared to LTPS panels, as the former require fewer mask layers during the manufacturing process. Hence, oxide panels currently possess the highest market share among all high-end notebook panel types. TrendForce expects oxide panels to reach a 12.8% penetration rate in the notebook panel market this year. With regards to suppliers, IVO and HKC are expanding the production capacities at the Kunshan-based Gen 5 fab and Mianyang-based Gen 8.6 fab, respectively, for oxide panels this year, while CSOT is also planning the same for its new Gen 8.6 fab in Guangzhou. Once these three suppliers finalize their expansion activities, their oxide panel capacities are expected to exceed 70K sheet/m, and these capacities will be gradually available for mass production across 2022-2024.
Continued price hikes of TV panels, as well as a simultaneous shortage and price hike of semiconductor components required for manufacturing TV sets have forced TV brands in 2021 to reduce the shipment of their mid- and small-sized TVs in favor of the more profitable large-sized, mid- to high-end TVs instead, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. This shift is expected to propel the annual shipment of QLED TV for 2021 to 11.02 million units, a 22.4% YoY increase. On the other hand, OLED TV shipment for 2021 is expected to reach 7.1 million units, an 80% increase YoY. As such, both product categories are expected to break records in terms of shipment this year.
It should be pointed out that, as increased vaccinations in Europe and the US bring about an imminent easing of border restrictions, TV demand generated by the stay-at-home economy is likely to slow down. In addition, TV panel costs have remained sky-high and shown no signs of downward movement. Hence, TV brands are moving towards larger product sizes and better specifications in order to maximize profits and minimize the financial losses incurred by selling mid- and small-sized TVs, which have relatively low margins. Given the downscaling of these less profitable models, TV brands’ annual shipments will likely suffer a corresponding drop. TrendForce therefore expects total TV shipment this year to reach 220 million units, a 1.4% YoY increase.
Samsung’s Neo QLED series will help propel annual shipment of Mini LED backlight TV to three million units in 2021
There has been a sharp drop in the profitability of mid- to small-sized TVs this year. In response, during the replacement period between old and new models, market leader Samsung Electronics has not only lowered the retail prices of its QLED products to attract consumers, but also released its new Neo QLED lineup, which features Mini LED backlights and resolutions ranging from UHD to 8K. Samsung’s QLED TV shipment is expected to undergo a 17% YoY increase to 9.1 million units this year, the highest annual shipment in history. In particular, Samsung’s lineup includes about 1.5 million Mini LED backlight TVs, mostly with 65-inch and 55-inch displays, and these sizes account for 33% and 30% of the company’s total Mini LED backlight TV shipment, respectively, while the ultra-large, 75-inch model will account for 17%.
TCL, on the other hand, released a relatively affordable 75-inch Mini LED backlight TV in 2020, with a 65-inch model released this year. TCL’s annual shipment of Mini LED backlight TV for 2021 will likely reach 800,000 units. Apart from the aforementioned two brands, Xiaomi and LG are also eager to enter the Mini LED backlight TV market. As such, TrendForce forecasts a total annual Mini LED backlight TV shipment of three million units for 2021.
While brands expand their production lines for OLED TVs, LG and Sony are expected to seize nearly 80% of OLED market share
At the moment, OLED TVs have been attracting consumer attention in the high-end TV market primarily due to their excellent image quality through high color saturation and contrast. As LG Display installs additional OLED capacity via its Gen 8.5 production line in Guangzhou this year, there will likely be a corresponding increase in OLED TV supply as well as a diversification of OLED TV sizes. Also, annual OLED TV shipment is expected to break records once again this year, as brands are willing to expand their OLED TV product lineups because strategic reductions in OLED panel costs have now significantly narrowed the gap between the cost of OLED panels and that of equivalent LCD panels, thereby giving OLED panels a cost advantage that allows TV brands to reap increased profitability. With regards to TV brands, LG Electronics remains the industry leader in terms of OLED TV shipment this year with a market share of more than 50%, while Sony takes second place with a 20% market share. Other Japanese brands (Panasonic, Sharp, etc.) and Chinese brands (Skyworth, Hisense, Xiaomi, etc.) are likewise expected to experience shipment growths going forward.
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