Santa Clara, Calif., December 1, 2011According to the recently-published NPD DisplaySearch Cover Glass Technology and Market Forecast Report, the market for cover glass, a component found in mobile devices as well as PCs and TVs, will see remarkable growth in 2011. NPD DisplaySearch estimates that 755 million devices with cover glass will be shipped this year. Mobile phones account for 84% of the devices, while more than 72 million tablet PCs with cover glass will ship in 2011, for Y/Y growth of 178%.

Tablet PCs consumed 8.5% of total cover glass shipments in 2010; however, with new non-Apple brands joining the competition, NPD DisplaySearch forecasts remarkable growth for the cover glass market in the near future, said Shawn Lee, Senior Analyst for NPD DisplaySearch.

Figure 1: Cover Glass Market Shipments and Y/Y Growth (millions)

Source: NPD DisplaySearch Cover Glass Technology and Market Forecast Report

Cover glass revenue is forecast to reach $4.6 billion in 2011, with mobile phones capturing 63.5% of total revenue. Tablet PCs account for 18.8% of total revenue, with Y/Y growth of 151%. At this time, the most critical market driver is projected capacitive touch used in mobile phones, added Lee. Projected capacitive touch usually requires cover glass, and according to the NPD DisplaySearch 2011 Touch Panel Market Analysis Report, projected capacitive touch will hold a 73.4% share of touch-enabled mobile phones.

Figure 2: Cover Glass Share by Application

Source: NPD DisplaySearch Cover Glass Technology and Market Forecast Report

Different Glass Types Competing for Market Share

Rapidly increasing demand for cover glass is drawing glass substrate manufacturers into the market. In addition to aluminosilicate glass makers, soda-lime makers are also looking to take advantage of this opportunity. Although the performance of chemically-strengthened aluminosilicate glass is better than soda-lime, some brands use soda-lime for low-cost models. But for high-end models, most use aluminosilicate-based cover glass.

The total area of cover glass will be over 22 million square meters in 2011, more than 90% of which will be aluminosilicate glass. Corning is currently the leading glass supplier, but many glass makers have joined the market. Supply area is increasing, but the selling price has not been declining dramatically.

NPD DisplaySearch forecasts raw glass supply area will be greater than cover glass demand by approximately 37% in 2011. The cover glass market differs from the thin film transistor (TFT) market. Mobile brands are the main clients, and cover glass products are customized, non-standard, and manufactured on a large scale.

Finishing Processes for Cover Glass

Most of the pressure in manufacturing and achieving high yield rates is felt during the finishing process, which represents 70-80% of the total cost of the cover glass finished product. Intense processing, such as CNC grinding, chemical strengthening, and printing, drive finishing process costs up even higher.

To improve industrial design and in-hand comfort, mobile brands and makers are promoting and developing 2.5D and 3D curved cover glass. In addition to using CNC grinding to manufacture curved glass, hot forming and mold pressing processes are also being promoted by makers.

The new NPD DisplaySearch Cover Glass Technology and Market Forecast Report is the only cover glass research report for CE and IT applications. This report covers capacity, design concerns and technology trends, including manufacturing processes. It also covers demand and forecasts by application, technology trends, and drivers of growth over the coming years. For more information on this report, please contact Charles Camaroto at 1.888.436.7673 or 1.516.625.2452, or or contact your regional DisplaySearch office in China, Japan, Korea or Taiwan.