The capacitive touch controller IC market is predicted to reach about $2.8 billion in 2017, an increase of nearly 50 percent from $1.9 billion in 2013, according to a new report from IHS Technology.
The controller IC market used in capacitive touch panels is likely to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.6 percent from 2013 to 2017 as the application of touch functions are expanded to various products, the report says.
“The touch controller IC price is expected to drop as competition gets fierce in the market, but the capacitive touch controller IC market is likely to maintain its positive growth trend for now,” said Seung-kyu Richard Son, senior analyst at IHS Technology. “Touch solutions that can stimulate consumers’ emotions should emerge steadily in order for the market to continue to grow.”
The touch controller IC, a key component that determines the performance of touch panels, is a non-memory semiconductor that transforms analogue signals into digital signals. This occurs when a user touches the screen on a device.
Capacitive touch technology, the mainstream in today’s touch panel market, is leading the growth in the touch panel industry. Over the past eight years, it has steadily advanced in many areas, including structures, materials and processes.
The report noted that smartphones and tablet PCs have accounted for the majority of the capacitive touch-panel demand market. But towards the end of 2012, the application of touch panels have been expanded to other applications, including notebook PCs and monitors. Along with this, touch controller ICs have become more important.
Up until 2011, US companies — including Atmel, Synaptics, Cypress and Broadcom — had dominated the capacitive touch controller IC market. But as the demand for smartphones and tablet PCs soared, Asian companies, including Melfas from South Korea, and FocalTech, Goodix and Mstar from China and Taiwan, are actively entering the touch controller IC market with enhanced skills and price competitiveness, the report says.
More notably, touch controller IC companies from China and Taiwan are rapidly growing on account of their low-priced products as well as having better relations with local smartphone and tablet PC makers. Although there are clear technological gaps between leading Western companies and the Chinese-Taiwanese touch controller IC suppliers, the gap has narrowed as latecomers continue their investments in mergers and acquisitions and R&D.
“The growth in Chinese-Taiwanese companies has resulted in a fall in supply prices for touch controller ICs, which is having a positive impact on manufacturers,” Mr. Son said. However, an excessive drop in prices can lead to lower profits for some companies and, in the end, will curb new investments.”