After my last blog and the multimedia clip from Marc Herman about how mobile trends are affecting the supply chain, and after hearing way too much upbeat commentary, we decided to snoop around some more and try to take the conversation deeper. (See: MWC: Parts Challenges Ahead for Mobile Vendors and Software, Components Upstage Hardware at MWC.)
Many chipmakers on the ground at the Mobile World Congress this week told EBN that they weren’t worried about mass producing silicon or powering their factories at full steam to meet demand. So, we asked them to point fingers, and tell us where they think potential issues could arise in the near-term.
It appears that what has put at least some people on guard is the industry’s ability to produce sufficient amounts of LCD-plus touch screen displays. More specifically, some mentioned glass shortages as the likely pain point -- we plan to ask some OEMs attending MWC the same question during the final days of the conference, too.
For Robert Thompson, director of smart mobile devices for Consumer Segment Marketing at Freescale Semiconductor Inc. , worldwide glass demand for tablets, mobile phones, TVs, PCs, MP3s, cameras, and many other devices, all of which require different dimensions, could tip the scales out of balance. He speculated it could even look like the shortage the industry experienced in the early 2000s.
Depending on which report you read, astronomical tablet growth is just on the horizon. Forrester, for instance, in a January report, said in the US market alone, tablets could go from reaching 10.3 million in 2010 to 82 million in 2015. According to a report from iSuppli Corp. , global shipments of tablets (both media tablets like the Apple iPad and PC-type tablets) could increase to as many as 242.3 million units in 2015, up by a factor of more than 12 from 2010.
Display production also has been on iSuppli’s mind. In a January report, Joseph Abelson wrote:
The technology industry’s rush to offer tablets that compete with Apple Inc.’s iPad will cause disruptions in the global display industry this year, generating both shortages and excess inventories, as display makers attempt to satisfy booming demand from their tablet customers...
Not since the dawn of television in the 1950s has another electronic device so effortlessly captured the hearts, minds, and discretionary spending of so many consumers.
John Carey, director of marketing for the TrueTouch product line at Cypress Semiconductor Corp. (Nasdaq: CY), said the key to ensuring consistent supply and addressing these rapid shifts rests in the strength of partner relationships. “We recently announced that we would be tripling our capacity,” Carey said, “We’re engaged with our third-party partners. We’re working with 25 glass and film vendors worldwide. We’re confident that the market will grow and be well supplied.”
What are you hearing?