Analyst: Component shortages impacting ultra-slim PC availability

With only two panel suppliers willing to shoulder the additional expense incurred from using ultra-slim glass, this could put a squeeze on the growing ultra-slim PC market.

Limited supply of touchscreens and thin panels is to put a squeeze on the ultra-slim PC market, claims NPD senior analyst Richard Shim.

Limited commitments by touch screen suppliers and ultra-slim panel makers is to blame according to the Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report from NPD DisplaySearch.

The ultra-slim PC market is a growth sector, with worldwide unit shipments expected to reach 44.2 million in 2013, making up 21.4 percent of the notebook PC market.

Touchscreen availability is expected to increase and PC brands are looking into alternatives to ultra-slim panels to reduce thickness. NPD estimates that touchscreen penetration in notebooks is expected to reach 13.1 percent, resulting in 27.2 million notebooks with touch capabilities in 2013. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. By 2017 touchscreens notebooks penetrations is expected to increase to 57 percent, or 106.6 million units, by 2017.

Not only is producing panels using ultra-slim glass—which is 0.4mm and thinner—challenging, but handling and transporting the fragile glass requires special equipment. According to Shim, only two panel suppliers—AUO, and Innolux—have taken on the additional expense incurred from using ultra-slim glass to create products using this material in any volume.

“The high-end specifications for touch on Windows 8 PCs, and the unproven consumer demand for touch on notebooks has touch screen suppliers leery of shifting capacity from the high volume smartphone and tablet PC markets to notebook PCs,” said Richard Shim, senior analyst with NPD DisplaySearch.

NPD defines an ultra-slim PC as x86-based notebooks with screen sizes between 10 and 17 inches. To be considered an ultra-slim PC, a notebook with a screen size less than 14 inches diagonally must be thinner than 18mm and for a notebook with screen sizes greater than 14 inches diagonally it must be thinner than 21mm.


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