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© ilya shahau dreamstime.com Components | June 24, 2013

GaN LED shipments to exceed 100bn units this year

More than 100 billion Gallium Nitride light-emitting diodes (GaN LED) will ship in 2013—the equivalent of 15 for every person on the planet using this particular type of lighting device incorporating the GaN semiconductor material, according to IMS Research IHS.
With mobile phones typically containing five or 10 LEDs and televisions incorporating LEDs numbering up to the hundreds, LED consumption is clearly accelerating. In particular, GaN LEDs account for 85 percent of total revenues in the LED industry, dominating key applications such as TVs and lighting. The GaN LED market is part of the total global LED market, including AlInGaP and other LEDs, tracked by IHS on an annual basis.

Revenue for GaN LEDs this year will pass the $10 billion mark, notes Jamie Fox, principal analyst for Lighting and LEDs at IHS. “If we consider the total LED market—including AlInGaP, GaN and other LED types—the $10 billion revenue and the 100 billion unit shipment levels were actually reached in 2010. But now in 2013, both of these thresholds are predicted to be attained by the GaN LED market alone, showing how large the segment has become.”
To be sure, tremendous growth has attended the GaN LED market in recent years. Revenue in 2013 is forecast to double from that of only four years ago, while unit shipments this year will have more than tripled since 2009.

Even so, growth on an annual basis has been fairly uneven. In 2010, for instance, the annual revenue increase was the largest by far in the history of the LED industry, but revenue was flat the year after. Growth then returned in 2012, climbing 15 percent. This year, revenue is forecast to be flat once again or see very little expansion, but the market can take comfort in industry total takings of $10.2 billion.

Another strong growth year is predicted in 2014 via general lighting along with other applications such as TVs and tablets, and then growth will slow after next year, with the double-digit revenue increases typical of years past harder to come by.
Within the GaN LED space, the market this year for GaN LEDs in lighting is projected to reach $3.4 billion, on its way to $6.7 billion by 2016. In contrast, the market for GaN LEDs in TVs will start declining as manufacturers reduce the number of LEDs utilized per television in the face of newer technology requiring fewer LEDs. From $2.1 billion this year, revenue for GaN LEDs in TVs will contract 7 percent on average every year during the next several years.

A number of challenges will be in store for the LED space moving forward. Despite the strong annual growth of recent years, overcapacity, tough competition and declining profit margins at some companies have been nipping at the industry. And as the market matures, players will find it increasingly tougher to survive and thrive, even as good opportunities exist for those with the appropriate product and business model, IHS believes.

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