In the first half of 2013, the global polarizer market amounted to $5.7 billion. The market will be estimated to total $11.8 billion for the full 2013 year, up 5% from the previous year. The market for small and medium(S/M)-sized polarizers is expected to grow, driving the growth of the overall polarizer market. The market for large size TFT-LCD polarizers that are used in TVs, monitors, and notebook PCs is expected to decrease by 2% in 2013 year-on-year (YoY) to $8.5 billion, while the S/M polarizer market is forecast to increase by 28% over the same period. The market for active matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED), S/M TFT-LCD, super twisted nematic mode (STN), and others will amount to $3.3 billion. Along with the adoption of touch screen interface, demand for small- to medium-sized applications has been growing while screens are bigger, underpinning the growth potential in the polarizer market by area. Small- and medium-sized products tend to attach a brightness enhancement film to the bottom polarizer to increase outdoor visibility, or employ low-reflection surface coating on the surface treatment layer. Those films carry higher prices, so their influence on overall sales will increase.
The polarizer market is dominated by LG Chem Ltd., Nitto Denko Corporation, and Sumitomo Chemical Co. and they together make up 77% of the global demand. Following them, Cheil Industries Inc., a unit of the Samsung Group; Chi Mei Materials Technology Corp. (CMMT), an Innolux (INX) affiliate; and BenQ Materials (BQM), an AU Optronics (AUO) affiliate, account for 5 to 6% each. In 2013, Samsung, INX, and AUO have increased polarizer purchases from their affiliates. In particular, Cheil has greatly relied on Samsung by supplying monitor- and notebook PC-use polarizers. It also recently initiated the supply of tablet PC polarizers to Samsung, securing a stable income source. Its supply volume is expected to increase gradually. There are even rumors that Cheil is considering building a new fab line. Regardless of the rumors’ authenticity, such speculations indicate that the company’s polarizer business is in a very good shape.
IHS has analyzed polarizer market trends, production line status by manufacturer, supply chains, and price trends between 2012 and 2017. This report looks into the important optical subfilm markets—TAC film, polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) films, PET protective films, release films, antireflection films, and compensation films—for a better understanding of the overall polarizer market where the competition for high-value film production is getting fierce.