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Touch technology upgrades as G/G’s mainstream status faces challenges

Apple’s smart phone iPhone5 applies the in-cell touch panel instead of the traditional G/G structure, reducing phone thickness by 18% and weight by 20%.
According to WitsView, the research division of market intelligence provider TrendForce, the dominance of G/G structure begins to fall, driven by the new generation products’ lighter and thinner design, leading to a decline in smart phone market share from 15.4% in 2012 to 6.4% in 2013, and a forecast 30% market share loss in the tablet market within one year.

As indicates by Eric Chiou, the research director of WitsView, since touch technologies multiply, in addition to in-cell touch panel coming fiercely, film type structure and OGS structure will also be commonly applied to mobile devices and NBs, and the overall touch industry would develop toward the diversification of module structures.

Smartphone- the leading player of G/G solution is gone as Apple jumps at in-cell

Among existing smart phones, most products carry glass/film/film (G/F/F) structure except for Apple’s iPhone using G/G touch module. The G/G structure performs better transparency compared with the film structure. Besides, the more sensitive touch experience is also the main reason why Apple insists on G/G. However the insistence is going through revolutionary changes in the new generation of iPhone, to trim the thickness, Apple applies in-cell panels, which is based on its own patent, to the new iPhone.

The in-cell technology is a short-cut to gain a bigger market share in touch sector for major LCD makers, said Witsview. Integrating the touch function into panels would not only simplify the process, improve the weight and thickness, and make supply chain easier, but also reduce materials and logistic costs. Of course the in-cell solution is not a panacea and faces several challenges, including signal interferences from panels to touch signals, dropping yields due to increasing masks.

Tablet market- rising challenges from film type structure

Apple is believed to replace G/G solution, its long-term practice, with the whole new GF2 solution (G Dito F) in the new generation of 7.85” iPad mini. Films replacing glass sensors can improve thickness and weight issues at the same time. To maintain the sensor sensitivity, Apple quits using films sensors of traditional printing method but applies metal bridge film sensors, exclusively supplied by Japan’s Nissha Printing for the moment. Following the obstacles are resolved, including poor yields at the initial stage and less competitive costs, GF2 structure would be possibly embedded to 9.7”iPad as suppliers increase.

In addition to Apple’s iPads, Microsoft will soon unveil Surface, carrying G1F structure based on film sensors. With the major makers’ solid push, the pressure that G/G solution in the tablet touch module would be replaced is stronger than ever.

Notebook- OGS solution is the hands-down leader

Compared with the previous versions of Windows operating system, touch-integrated function is Win8’s biggest breakthrough; as a result, an upsurge of touch function is rising among NBs featuring mainly Windows operating system. On the condition of adding touch function to the original NB without increasing too much weight, most importantly, without increasing too much cost, the relatively simple structure of OGS solution meets naturally clients’ requirements.

As NBs mostly adopt clamshell industrial design, solving the touch modules’ strength concern, as a result, 95% of the touch NBs use OGS structure, G/G seems to appeal to no one in the touch NB application market. For the glass type touch sensor suppliers, it is hard for them to share the market of above 10.1” applications in the future if they don’t develop toward OGS shortly to diversify the risks.
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