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Future is bright for touchscreens, iSuppli predicts

Posted: 21 Jun 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:touchscreens market? iPhone? iSuppli forecast?

Even before the iPhone hype put touchscreens in the spotlight, iSuppli said demand for this technology was already rapidly growing, and the research firm predicts that global shipment revenue will rise to $4.4 billion by 2012, up from $2.4 billion in 2006.

"Demand for touch-screen displays is being driven primarily by the mobile-phone and consumer-electronics industriesspecifically portable game consoles, personal digital assistants and portable navigation devices," said Jennifer Colegrove, senior analyst, display technology and strategy for iSuppli. "However, as the market matures, iSuppli believes touch-screen displays will find a role in nearly every aspect of electronics life, from planes, to automobiles, to machine-control systems, to home appliances."

Touchsreen technologies
The eight leading touchscreen technologies are resistive, surface capacitive, projected capacitive, infrared, SAW, optical, bending wave and active digitizer. Along with these, there are eight other emerging technologies: photo sensor in pixel, polymer waveguide, distributed light, strain gauge, multitouch, dual-force touch, laser-point-activated touch and 3D touch.

With profits diminishing, iSuppli predicts there will be a number of mergers and acquisitions in this sectors in the very near future. Resistive products are the most affordable and most common type of touch-screen technology. The advantages of resistive touch-screen displays include low price, high resolution, mouse tracking, small-target activation and the fact that they are not affected by dirt, dust, water or light. Unfortunately, the image clarity of resistive touchscreens leaves much to be desired. Furthermore, such displays are very brittle and therefore vulnerable to impact from any large or sharp object, making their durability an issue.

Despite these drawbacks, the resistive touch-screen market is still expected to experience major growth in terms of unit shipments. However, revenues won't see much growth as other technologies eat into its business. This market will still reach $1.67 billion by 2012, rising at a CAGR of 3.1 percent from $1.39 billion in 2006.

iPhone interface
Multitouch is emerging as a popular option thanks to Apple's upcoming iPhone and new designs such as Microsoft's concept tabletop computer. One bottleneck to this technology may lie with Apple, which owns one of the multitouchscreen patents. It's unclear whether Apple will be willing to accept royalty payments in exchange for use of the technology. However, this is only one patent and does not apply to all multitouchscreen technologies.

iSuppli believes the applications most suitable for multitouchscreen displays are new handheld video-game systems, map browsing systems and new mobile handsets with a variety of features beyond voice communications. The market for multitouch touchscreens is set to grow to $433.1 million in 2012, rising at a CAGR of 30.8 percent from $112.9 million in 2007.




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