In keeping with the trend of increasing consolidation in the LCD market, Sanyo Electric and Seiko Epson have merged their LCD product lines to diversify their product offerings and increase manufacturing and research-and-development capabilities. The two companies hope the power of two will help them establish a niche in the growing high-resolution monitor market. The new company is called Sanyo Epson Imaging Devices (SEID). The two companies are splitting the shares of the company 55-45 with Epson controlling the majority.
The company will deviate from focusing on larger monitors to concentrate on smaller displays. In particular, the mobile phone display industry is predicted to experience a spike in demand in the coming years as it moves away from monochrome and color STN displays to the pricier but higher-quality TFT-LCDs. According to Vinita Jakhanwal, senior analyst with iSuppli/Stanford Resources, a research firm that specializes in electronics displays, 700 million cell phone display units will be shipped in 2004.
Jakhanwal added that TFT-LCDs will own an estimated 46 percent of the 820-million-unit mobile display market by 2006 – up from 28 percent in 2004.
With the merger, SEID will combine the resources of the two companies to provide a full range of products covering all types of low and high-resolution, monochrome and color displays. They will offer TFT-LCDs, monochrome and color STN displays and amorphous silicon and polysilicon TFTs.
“This [product line] will put SEID in a particularly advantageous position in the mobile phone display market,” said Jakhanwal.
Seiko Epson’s 33 percent mobile screen market share led the industry in 2003. Sanyo has established itself as a leader in digital camera displays, but has had a hard time trying to break into the mobile phone display industry. With in-house development lagging, time was of the essence to capitalize on the anticipated growth, which led the company to partner.
This is Japan’s second merger in this industry in a two-year span. In 2002, Toshiba and Matsushita Electric Industrial formed a joint LCD venture.
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