Apple's need for iPhone touch panels could hurt other vendors

The next iPhone may grab as much as 70 percent of all LTPS panels, putting the high-resolution screens in short supply for other smartphone makers.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read
The next iPhone could need lots of LTPS displays to offer a 326 ppi resolution.
The next iPhone could need lots of LTPS displays to offer a 326 ppi resolution. Apple

Apple will need a huge number of LTPS, or low-temperature poly-silicon, screens to maintain the Retina Display resolution on its next iPhone, a move that could make life tough for its rivals, according to DigiTimes.

Citing the usual "Taiwan-based supply chain makers," DigiTimes said the next iPhone will will require the use of LTPS technology to offer a resolution of 326 pixels per inch. LTPS displays can achieve higher resolutions than those possible with regular active-matrix LCD screens.

But production of such screens will be in short supply. Manufacturers LG Display, Japan Display, and Sharp combined can produce about 95 million LTPS panels each quarter. Assuming a successful yield rate of 75 percent, that equals between 71 million and 72 million panels, DigiTimes' sources said.

However, Apple is likely to require about 70 percent of the total yield of the panels to meet demand for the iPhone, this year and in 2013. As such, other smartphone vendors will be hard pressed to find enough supply to fill their own needs.

Of course, this type of situation is hardly new or unique. Apple has a history of grabbing a hefty percentage of certain components for its products, leaving the rest of the industry to fight over the remaining scraps.

iPhone sales could fall to 25 million in the current quarter from 35 million last quarter, the sources estimated. But sales will ramp up to 40 million or higher in the third quarter and 45 million in the fourth quarter, they added.