Apple, Samsung Drive Embedded Touch Mobile Display Market

In-cell and on-cell touch displays for mobile phones grew 47 percent year over year, accounting for 36 percent of shipments in 2014.

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Embedded touch displays, including in-cell and on-cell touch displays, are forecast to make up nearly 40 percent of touch module shipments for mobile phone applications this year, according to a report from tech research firm IHS.
In-cell and on-cell touch displays for mobile phones grew 47 percent year over year, accounting for 36 percent of shipments in 2014.
Apple and Samsung accounted for more than 40 percent of the global smartphone market, and the growing use of in-cell and on-cell touch technologies by these two companies is driving the direction of the overall touch sensor market, according to the report.
"While there are more in-cell or on-cell being adopted, conventional touch module makers' business will be most influenced," Calvin Hsieh, director for IHS, told eWEEK. "Smartphones are the most critical touch application. The success and growth in this particular application has remarkable meaning for future competition and the ecosystem."
According to the report, in-cell touch displays benefited from the success of Apple iPhone 6, and Japan Display's successful decision to approach name brands with its Pixel Eyes module helped it attain 51 percent shipment growth year over year in 2014.
On-cell thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal display (TFT LCD) successfully entered the entry-level and midrange smartphone market, growing from nearly 5 million units in 2013 to 67 million units in 2014.
On-cell active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) unit growth reached just 9 percent year-over-year, due in part to Samsung's smartphone growth slowing last year.
Apple's in-cell displays, Japan Display's in-cell displays and Samsung's on-cell AMOLED displays primarily focus on the high-end mobile phone market, while on-cell TFT LCD by single-layer patterning fills the gap for entry-level and midrange markets, the report noted.
"These brands' approach of adopting a touch solution will be very influential, as their adoption also can convince other brands, so that in-cell and on-cell become a more dominant technology," Hsieh said.
He also noted that in-cell and on-cell will eventually grab shares but not quickly, as conventional touch makers still can offer cost-effective solutions for those brands that are not able to have panel makers' in-cell and on-cell capacity.
"The trend will be that in-cell and on-cell are rising and add-on types are declining, especially for smartphone applications," he explained. "Force Touch—tapping and haptic feedback—is a kind of enhancement to existing touch on a trackpad or screen. Due to sensing the pressure or tapping, it can make touch user experience better and more useful."
Hsieh noted that Apple successfully integrates mature technologies like hardware and software to provide this enhancement for those apps, with non-Apple brands inquiring whether to expect the enhanced touch experience to be the next trend.