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Touchscreens Expected To Boost Notebook Sales

Santa Clara, Calif. — The mature notebook PC category is expected to get a boost from the popularity of Microsoft Windows 8 and the touchscreen capabilities it offers, according to a new NPD DisplaySearch report.

The penetration of touchscreens in notebook PCs was less than 3 percent in 2012, but is expected to grow to more than 12 percent in 2013. This compares with touchscreen penetration of 77 percent in mobile phones and 100 percent in tablet PCs.

According to NPD DisplaySearch’s latest “Touch Panel Market Analysis Report,” several new form factors for Windows 8 notebook PCs, including flip and convertible designs, have been created to attract end users.

However, the profitability of new touchscreen models will be a challenge until sufficient production volume and rates of scale are established.

According to Calvin Hsieh, research director at NPD DisplaySearch, “Touchscreen and PC manufacturers are looking carefully at how successful these initial Windows 8 touchscreen notebook models are in the market, as the touchscreen module requirements for Windows 8 increase module costs, and those requirements are difficult to meet in high volume production.”

Hsieh added, “When consumers consider purchasing a notebook computer with touchscreen functionality, the cost of the device is more important than its form factor. If prices decline sufficiently, then penetration of touch into the 200 million unit global market and growth in larger screen sizes would drive significant growth for touchscreens in the coming quarters.”

Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard and other PC brands have been introducing touchscreens for their new notebook PC products. Hsieh continued, “Touch module bill-of-materials costs range between $50 and $80 for notebook PC sizes, not including the cost of optical bonding. Notebook PC brands need a lower-cost touch solution in order to lower barriers to consumer adoption.”

One approach to lowering cost, NPD DisplaySearch said, is to use structured sensor glass rather than the one-glass solution for notebook touch integration, but this may require changes to Windows 8’s requirements. Another approach would be to eliminate optical bonding, leaving an air gap between the touch sensor and the display.

More detailed information on shifts in the touchscreen market is available on the DisplaySearch website.