It is a high cost industry with significant investment required for new entrants. Major portion of the modern LCD industry is currently dominated in the regions of Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and China.
Japan had a leading position in the global TFT-LCD industry before 1995. However, as the competition intensified, other manufacturers in Taiwan and Korea entered the market. Taiwan soon achieved a very strong position in the industry with large demand from local notebook PC manufacturers. Currently, the global TFT-LCD panel production capacity and the TFT-LCD supply chain are heavily concentrated in Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and China.
The following essay will take a brief look at the LCD industry with a focus on the LCD TV. The essay will start with a brief discussion on the how the industry came into being and then a look at the future demand forecasts. As the essay is primarily supply chain focused, the next section will discuss the supply chain as well as the value chain which offers a better overall picture of the industry. The will be followed by a discussion on some of the recent trends in the supply chain as well as how the industry dynamics is redefining the whole electronics supply chain.
Although properties of liquid crystals were discovered as early as 1880s by Friedrich Reinitzer, the interest in the development declined due to lack of practical application. Kawamoto (2002) points to the fact that the modern history of liquid crystals is dominated by development of electronic displays made of liquid crystals.
These developments started in 1962 when Richard Williams discovered electro-optical effect by generating stripe-patterns in a thin layer of liquid crystal material by the application of a voltage. By applying an electric field perpendicular to the surface of the glass, he observed the appearance of a regular pattern in the area where the electric field was applied. This phenomenon is now known as 'Williams domain' and Kawamoto (2002) describes it as a forerunner of the LCD.
The works of Williams led to the discovery of dynamic scattering mode (DSM) in 1964 by George H. Heilmeier working at RCA. Further scientific work improved the application and led to the birth of LCD technology. The discovery led Heilmeier to believe that a wall-sized flat-panel color TV was just around the corner (Kawamoto, 2002).
However, it took another quarter of century for the LCD TV to finally become a reality. This was more due to the organisational lack of interest then technical issues. Kawamoto (2002) points to the works of Heilmeier where he indicated how LCD was considered as a threat to the other RCA's products and was thought of as a distraction to their main electronic focus.
However, the potential of LCD had already created a major interest worldwide. In 1970, Sharp launched its research on LCDs for pocket calculators and introduced them in 1973 with tremendous success. RCA had developed a digital watch in 1968 but commercialisation would require further research. Suwa Seiko, a well known Japanese watch maker, started its own programme on watch development based on LCD and launched the product with great success. Both the products based on LCD - pocket calculators and wrist watches - found great commercial success.
LCD panels had already been considered around this time and in 1985, Sharp seriously got involved in research and development of LCD panels. After various