Shortage of Touchscreens Means Shortage of Ultrathins

DisplaySearch finds that ultra-slim PCs are experiencing tight supply

By Sebastian Pop on February 9th, 2013 09:07 GMT
Ultrabooks haven't been selling as well as netbooks did in the beginning, but they, and other ultrathins, have still grabbed the hearts of many. Still, a new report reveals some worrying facts.

Long story short, ultra-slim PCs are in tight supply, and will experience undersupply for a while, because of the low inventories of touchscreens.

Since Intel wants all Haswell-based ultrabooks to have them, and Microsoft expects every PC to eventually use such screens, there is a much higher demand for them than before.

Indeed, touch panels have become so widespread that they, in conjunction with Windows 8, have led to the appearance of a new product type: convertible all-in-one PC.

Then there is a slightly less severe problem of ultra-slim displays themselves being in lower supply than some would like.

"The high-end specifications for touch on Windows 8 PCs, and the unproven consumer demand for touch on notebooks has touch screen suppliers leery of shifting capacity from the high volume smartphone and tablet PC markets to notebooks," said Richard Shim, senior analyst with DisplaySearch.

Ultrabooks, and AMD-powered alternatives, use thin panels as one of the main methods of reducing overall laptop thickness.

The problem is twofold: manufacturing 0.4mm thinner glass is difficult, and transporting it safely is another worry.

While it is obviously possible to transport shipments of such glass, it involves special equipment that not many have. Cost premiums are a worry as well.

All in all, there is more than enough cause to think there will be lower availability than expected, and that prices will be affected because of it.

The ultrathin PC market is set to account for 21.4% of the full notebook industry in 2013 (44.2 million shipments). Had there been hopes that touchscreen availability would improve faster, the forecast would be higher. At least, the high-end market will be more clearly defined after all this.
ASUS VivoBook ultrathin
   ASUS VivoBook ultrathin
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