[EPNC=Nari Lee] Global shipments of touch panel cover lens, which include front- and rear-cover lenses for mobile devices, are expected to reach 2.2 billion units in 2017, up 15.5% year-over-year (y/y). By application, smartphone will continue to expand its market share in the next few years, accounting for 83.9% in 2017. On the other hand, tablet PC will likely shed its share from 9.2% in 2016 to 7.8% in 2017, as set shipments continue to decline, according to the Touch Panel Cover Glass Market Report from IHS Markit.
By material, aluminosilicate is expected to continue dominating the cover lens end market. Its shipment area is forecast to reach 19.5 million square meters in 2017, making up 64.8%, and is followed by soda lime with 31.7% because of its price advantage.
IHS Markit forecasts that colorless PI will be used for cover lens beginning 2018 when Samsung Electronics is expected to launch a bendable device. In regards to ceramic, which has low yield rates but at a higher price, it is expected to expand its share as some brands insist on adopting the material in their smartphone’s rear cover lens for its hardness. IHS Markit expects it to reach 262,000 square meters by 2021.
By shape, the one-side curved 2.5D front cover lens still takes the largest revenue share in 2017, but 2D flat front cover lens takes the biggest shipment share. More brands are adopting 2.5D as their mainstream cover lens, which is two to three times more expensive than the 2D version. IHS Markit expects 3D, both-side curved front cover to top in the revenue market by 2019, surpassing 2.5D. Samsung Display has sold increasing number of curved AMOLED displays to set brands, which is driving 3D shipment increase.
By supplier, Corning has been a longtime leading player in the aluminosilicate glass market. Now, Chinese suppliers, such as CaiHong Group, CSG Holding, Sichuan Xuhong Optoelectronic Technology (also known as DongXu) and Kornerstone Materials Technology (KMTC), have started to enter the market with improved technical capability since last year. IHS Markit expects that there will be further acute competition in the next few years.
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