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Report: LED LCD Panel Shipments Up 780%

Austin, Texas — Worldwide shipments of LED backlights for LCD panels measuring 10 inches and larger reached 10.6 million units in Q1 2009, up 63 percent from the previous quarter and 780 percent from the same period a year ago, according to a new study from DisplaySearch.

The NPD Group’s Quarterly LED Backlight Panel Shipment and Forecast Report said LED backlight panel

shipments are expected to reach 104.5 million units in 2009. In Q4 2009, penetration of LED backlight panels will be as high as 25 percent.

Currently, portable computers are the leading application for LED backlights, with 4.2 million LED backlit panels shipped for mini-note PCs (netbooks), or 100 percent LED penetration, and 5.9 million for notebook PCs, or 26 percent penetration, in Q1 2009, DisplaySearch said.

All mini-note PCs used a wedge-type LED backlight design, but it is expected that slim-type backlights will be used starting in Q2 2009. In Q1 2009, 76 percent of notebook LED backlit panels used wedge-type light guide plates.

HannStar led in shipments of LED backlight panels for mini-note PCs, while LG Display was the leading supplier of LED backlit panels for notebook PCs.

Mini-note panels will remain 100 percent LED in 2009, and the LED backlight supply chain and panel suppliers are focused on increasing LED backlight penetration in other applications this year.

In Q3 2009, LED backlights will exceed CCFL backlights in notebook LCD panels, reaching 53 percent penetration, DisplaySearch predicted.

In desktop monitors, LED backlit panel shipments were only 0.1 million in Q1 2009, representing less than 0.5

percent of LCD monitor panels shipped in Q1 2009. The value of LED backlights for LCD monitors is still not clear to end users, the research firm said.

For TVs, shipments of LED LCD panels were 0.4 million in Q1 2009, concentrated in 40-, 46- and 55-inch screen sizes as Samsung launched side-lit LED TV models.

LCD TV panel makers are planning to ship 4.3 million panels with LED backlights in 2009, 68 percent side-light type and 32 percent direct. Table 2 shows the forecast of the top five LED backlight panel maker shares by application.

David Hsieh, DisplaySearch VP, said, “The driving factors for the fast growth of LED backlights are slim and lightweight form factor, lower power consumption, market differentiation, dimming backlight capability, wide color gamut and the trend towards green displays. However, there are many challenges in LED backlight design, components availability and cost, and panel makers are working closely with LED backlight supply-chain participants to increase shipments.”

Hsieh added, “The growing LED penetration in TFT LCD will raise new issues such as LED cost management, LED chip availability, and changes in backlight structure. As LED production shares the same capacity with the lighting market and many LED companies are evaluating the strategy for backlights, the market has some concerns over LED availability. We believe LED supply-chain management will be a key success factor for panel makers and will reshuffle the competition landscape from now to 2010.”

The full DisplaySearch Quarterly LED Backlight Panel Shipment and Forecast Report, tracking TFT LCD manufacturers’ shipments of LED backlight panels, is available here.