[FPDI China] Asian Panel Makers Express Strong Interests in Chinese Market

Dec 14, 2010
Tomofumi Kimura, Tech-On!

Five world's leading panel makers delivered keynote speeches after greetings from officials of the Chinese government and the Beijing city government at the FPD International CHINA 2010 / Summit and Seminar.

The event took place Dec 10, 2010.

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AU Optronics
Frank Ko, vice president and general manager of AU Optronics' TV business group, explained that the Chinese TV market is different from the global TV market. Specifically, while global companies such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, LG Display Co Ltd and Sony Corp have large market shares in the global TV market, Chinese makers have about 80% market share in the Chinese TV market, he said.

Ko also said that AU Optronics (AUO) can supply more panels to such Chinese makers than any other panel makers and will continue to invest in manufacturing facilities in China. Thus far, AUO has tended to purchase components and produce panels in Taiwan and assemble TVs in mainland China. But the company plans to carry out all the processes in mainland China for the future.

As for products that AUO will focus on, Ko mentioned polarized 3D displays. Japanese and Korean makers own core technologies including chip technologies for 3D displays using a time-sharing method, which are currently mainstream. But AUO can supply all the core technologies necessary for polarized 3D displays, giving a competitive edge to the company, he said.

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Samsung Electronics
Jun H. Souk, vice president of Samsung Electronics, said that, from now, panel makers cannot survive just by cutting costs and it is necessary to offer new added values to consumers by employing new technologies. The company is now focusing on themes such as "3D," "interactive," "smart & convenience" and "green."

As for 3D, though there are currently many problems, it will certainly become mainstream, he said. Samsung aims to expand the market by enhancing the drive frequency of panels to 480Hz and enabling to show natural images that can be viewed without special glasses.

In regard to new added values, Souk introduced translucent displays and showed movies to explain how they will be used. To commercialize them, he intends to improve their transmissivity from the current 5% to 20%.

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Chengming He, vice president of TCL Corp and president of Shenzhen China Star Optoelectroncis Technology (a joint venture of TCL and a Shenzhen-based state fund), delivered a speech on the current status of the joint venture. It was established in November 2009, and it is now construing a manufacturing plant for the 8.5th-generation LCD panels.

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If everything goes well, the company will start to install manufacturing facilities in May 2011 and begin volume production in the fourth quarter of 2011. It is now training engineers and testing production, He said.

In regard to the engineers of the joint venture, it employed 200 college graduates. After finishing training courses, they are now being trained at its partner companies in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, etc.

The test production is carried out at other companies' manufacturing plants while the engineers are trained there. By taking all possible measures, the joint venture intends to ship products soon after the new plant starts operations, He said.

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LG Display
Champ Shin, executive director of LG Display, reflected on the year 2010 and showed a perspective on the year 2011. He mentioned this year's oversupply of panels and said that it occurred because, despite the growing market, suppliers boosted their production capacities through capital investments. He also said that the oversupply is now slowing down.

Shin predicted that the company will start off on the right foot in 2011 because (1) many makers are planning to release products having concepts similar to that of Apple Inc's "iPad" tablet PC, (2) the demand for energy-saving LED panels is expected to grow and (3) 3D TVs are expected to become more common.

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BOE Technology Group
Yanshun Chen, president of BOE Technology Group Co Ltd, summarized the eight years past since the company's entry into the FPD industry and discussed its current growth strategies. BOE started to manufacture LCD panels in 2003. Since then, through hard times, the company has steadily grown its FPD business by, for example, establishing manufacturing bases in Beijing, Hefei and Chengdu.

Currently, BOE is constructing an 8.5-generation line in Beijing in the aim of drastically expanding its production capacity. By 2013, it intends to increase the capacity to 1.08 million panels per month, which is about seven times higher than the current 150,000 panels per month. Also, the company plans to conduct research and development in collaboration with its partners at its well-equipped research facilities in Beijing, Chen said.

After the keynote speeches from the panel makers, Kiyoshi Sato, vice chairman of Tokyo Electron, introduced future FPD technologies and delivered a lecture on how the company will approach new technologies as an equipment maker. Then, Yuhang Li of Hefei Lucky Science & Technology Industry Co Ltd discussed the current status of optical films for FPDs. For the last lecture in the morning, Yusuke Nagai, general manager of Marubeni Corp, made a speech on the roles of general trading companies in the Chinese FPD industry, the potential of the industry and so forth.