Apple is buying up touchscreen displays for the 40 million iPad tablets it intends to sell in 2011, and it has scooped up 60 percent of the global touchscreen inventory. Apple has secured most of the touchscreen displays coming off the production line of panel makers Wintek and TPK and has created a shortage among second-tier tablet makers. The report suggests RIM, HP and Motorola are competing for the remaining inventory, a situation that makes it difficult for smaller manufacturers to compete in this growing market.
The bulk of these displays are glass capacitive panels, similar to the ones currently used in the iPad and the iPhone. As an alternative, manufacturers may be forced to use a thin-film capacitive touchscreen display that provides the same functionality, but is less durable and has a different feel than standard glass displays. Tablet manufacturers are also turning to smaller touch panel makers such as Sintek Photronic and J Touch to fill their display needs.
According to the report, the shortage in inventory for the iPad and iPhone in 2010 can be attributed to a lack of touchscreen displays. Rather than let history repeat itself, Apple has reportedly invested billions into a variety of display manufacturers. Earlier rumors suggest the Cupertino company has invested US$7.8 billion to secure individual display units from Samsung as well as an additional $3.9 billion in pre-payments to Sharp, LG Display and Toshiba Mobile. Combine this current rumor with previous ones, and it is becoming clear that Apple has wisely cornered the market for touchscreen displays.