In 2014, mobile displays will take the lead with the largest share of flat-panel display (FPD) revenues, displacing LCD TVs, which have dominated the top spot since 2006, according to a report from IT analytics firm NPD DisplaySearch.
Worldwide FPD revenues are expected to reach $131 billion in 2014, which is just 1 percent higher than the previous year, the report predicted.
As the markets for mobile phones, mobile PCs, automobile monitors, public displays and OLED TVs continue to grow, the report projected display revenue for LCD TVs, plasma TVs, digital still cameras and amusement devices will decline.
"With strong growth in tablet PCs, high-end notebooks, and smartphones—especially high resolution and wide-viewing angle displays—mobile devices are leading the growth of the FPD industry," David Hsieh, vice president of NPD DisplaySearch, said in a statement. "Mobile devices are expected to expand their revenue lead over LCD TV in the years to come, accounting for nearly half of all FPD revenue by 2016."
The decline in LCD TV revenue is expected to be especially sharp, due to price erosion of 40-inch and larger panel sizes. LCD TV panel revenue is expected to fall from $53 billion in 2013 to $49 billion in 2014.
Simultaneously, mobile PC display revenue is are expected to climb from $20.3 billion to $21.2 billion in 2014 and mobile phone display revenue from $28.9 billion to $33.6 billion.
"The FPD industry is becoming increasingly dominated by smart handheld applications," Hsieh noted. "The supply chain needs to leverage the mobile display boom, strategically deploying their resources, and developing new technologies."
Due to their larger display area and comparatively higher unit prices, LCD TV panels accounted for a majority of FPD revenue since 2006, but over the past three years, the market for mobile devices has expanded.
The recent trend toward higher resolutions, slimmer and more lightweight specifications, wider view angle requirements and lower power consumption, as well as the emergence of Low Temperature PolySilicon (LTPS) and OLED displays, is causing mobile display revenue to soar.
Because of the shift in the market toward mobile devices, FPD makers are now turning their focus to small and medium-size displays.
The report noted that the situation is especially apparent in China, where there are growing numbers of new LTPS and OLED fabrication labs (fabs).On the other hand, panel makers in China are starting to use Gen 8 and other larger fabs to produce greater numbers of panels for small and medium-size handheld devices.
"While Chinese panel manufacturers are comparatively slower and weaker than others when it comes to mobile panel technologies, they will definitely change their focus from LCD TV to the mobile displays," Hsieh said.