Taiwan is laying the groundwork to pass rival South Korea again in TFT-LCD panel production in 2006, according to research firm iSuppli. Taiwanese manufacturers, such as AU Optoelectronics, passed Korea in the second quarter of 2004 by producing 45.3 percent of the world's flat panels compared to South Korea's 44.5. South Korea, powered by Samsung and LG, however, quickly took the lead back.
Taiwan, however, is now in the middle of factory construction. By the end of 2005, Taiwan will have 24 factories to Korea's 19, giving it the opportunity to regain the top spot.
In a lot of ways, the hardware industry is sort of like a bad gambling habit. Price declines in the past year have eroded the profits of many flat panel makers. But, rather than get out, many sink billions more into new factories to lower costs and boosts output in the quest for market share. Besides, an EE has to do something.