Cover Glass Makers Turn to Sapphire to Raise Growth Prospects, According to NPD DisplaySearch

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SANTA CLARA, CALIF., June 5, 2014—After several years of growth, the cover glass market is expected to slow. However, improvements in applications and materials used in cover glass manufacturing could help to stimulate the market again. According to the latest Touch Panel Cover Glass Report from NPD DisplaySearch, the surface area of the cover glass market surged 37% from 2012 to 2013, but slower growth is forecast in 2014, with the surface area growth rate declining to 17% Y/Y.

"There has been fierce competition in the cover glass market due to the market maturity of major applications," said Calvin Hsieh, research director for NPD DisplaySearch. "As sapphire's popularity rises, and as it is adopted in premium smartphones, slowing growth will be mitigated."

Figure: Cover Glass Market Demand Forecast by Area

Source: NPD DisplaySearch Touch Panel Cover Glass Report

Due to higher manufacturing costs, smartphone makers have thus far used sapphire only for camera lenses and fingerprint-identification components. However, Apple is expected to adopt sapphire for cover glass as early as 2015, using its own patents and supply chain to manufacture the material. Recently, GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT) acquired Hyperion and began working directly with its EV Group. Apple provided GTAT with a prepayment of $578 million to build the supply chain. "Apple seems to consider sapphire to be a strategic material for future projects. However, Apple will most likely adopt its own unique approach to the use of sapphire instead of relying on the traditional sapphire material supply chain," Hsieh noted.

Samsung and LG are also expected to use sapphire material on some premium and limited edition models. "Samsung has already announced its Galaxy S5 Swarovski edition, which uses crystal for the rear cover decoration. Premium materials will likely become a critical feature for flagship models," according to Hsieh.

The Touch Panel Cover Glass Report offers an in-depth understanding of the current touch cover glass supply chain and important trends, which is critical for strategic planning, product planning, and supply chain professionals in the industry. For more information about the report, please contact Charles Camaroto at 888-436-7673 or 516-625-2452, e-mail contact@displaysearch.com or contact your regional NPD DisplaySearch office in China, Japan, Korea or Taiwan for more information.

Connect with NPD DisplaySearch at booth number 506 at 2014 SID Display Week to learn more about the touch panel cover glass market.

About NPD DisplaySearch
NPD DisplaySearch, part of The NPD Group, provides global market research and consulting specializing in the display supply chain, including trend information, forecasts and analyses developed by a global team of experienced analysts with extensive industry knowledge. NPD DisplaySearch supply chain expertise complements sell-through information from The NPD Group, thereby providing a true end-to-end view of the display supply chain from materials and components to shipments of electronic devices with displays to sales of major consumer and commercial channels. For more information, visit us at http://www.displaysearch.com/. Read our blog at http://www.displaysearchblog.com/ and follow us on Twitter at @DisplaySearch.

About The NPD Group, Inc.
The NPD Group provides global information and advisory services to drive better business decisions. By combining unique data assets with unmatched industry expertise, we help our clients track their markets, understand consumers, and drive profitable growth. Practice areas include automotive, beauty, consumer electronics, entertainment, fashion, food/foodservice, home, luxury, mobile, office supplies, sports, technology, toys, and video games. For more information, visit npd.comand npdgroupblog.com. Follow us on Twitter at @npdtech and @npdgroup.