Electronics Production | December 14, 2011

Adoption of backlights to drive LED penetration rate in 2012

Increased adoption of cost-effective direct-type backlights will drive up LED penetration rate in 2012.
According to WitsView, a research division of TrendForce, LED backlight design focus in early 2011 centered on reducing the number of LED lightbars required in order to close the price gap with their CCFL counterparts. Thus, brand vendors initially held high hopes on the LED backlight market growth in 2011, estimating that the LED penetration rate could reach 50%~60%.

Unfortunately, in light of the subsequent global economic downturn, the end market demand weakened substantially. Budget-priced products instead became the prime choice among consumers. The persisting price gap between LED and CCFL displays continued to discouraged potential buyers from choosing LED displays.

Moreover, brand vendors also needed to clear some of their CCFL displays inventory, resulting in the overall LED TV and LED Monitor penetration rates to merely reach 41.6% and 39.7% in 2011 respectively.

Boyce Fan, WitsView research manager, indicated that to effectively stimulate LED display sales in 2012, the market focus in the backlight design will migrate toward lowering the material costs and the brightness level. In 2011, the current mainstream 380 nits edge-type LED backlight in 2011 will be replaced by the 330 nits direct-type design in 2012.

By taking the 32” display as an example, through the new approach, the LED package usage can be reduced from 80 to 35 pieces. Another inherent advantage is that, for light distribution, only the diffuser plate is needed while the expensive light guide plate is no longer required.

This material cost advantage closes the cost difference between 32” LED and CCFL models to a mere $7. Undoubtedly, the direct-type design will significantly help boost the sales of LED displays.

As LED displays gradually become more prevalent, it is starting to constrain the supply of CCFL models. Coupled by the price increase in relevant fluorescent materials used in the CCFL, it has forced some CCFL suppliers to decide to exit the market.

Beginning from 2012, WitsView believes that with the decrease in the CCFL supply, it will further spur brand vendors in promoting relevant LED products. The more cost-effective LED models should see a growing opportunity in replacing their CCFL counterparts in becoming the new mainstream choice among consumers.

In general, WitsView projects that in 2012, the LED TV market penetration rate will grow to 68.4%, while LED monitors will exceed the 70% mark, reaching 71.9%.
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