Taiwan FPD Executives Addresse Growth Challenges
At the SEMI FPD Taiwan 2007 show, held July 4th through 6th in Taipei, Taiwan, a distinguished group of executives discussed issues and opportunities facing the FPD industry both globally and in Taiwan. Mr. Colley Hwang, the president and CEO of DIGITIMES, delivered the most thought-provoking of these perspectives as he addressed the key issues specifically facing Taiwan’s FPD companies.
These issues, according to Mr. Hwang, include the following: profit levels today for Taiwan’s manufacturers are not large enough to sustain investment, TV screen sizes are getting bigger, necessitating new fabs and equipment, panel makers have been slow to adopt 8th generation fab production, Chinese manufacturers are becoming a serious alternative for consumers, and perhaps most important, Taiwan’s manufacturers have not established global brand recognition and consumer mindshare retention as some Japanese and Korean brands have done.
In Mr. Hwang’s view, the “crystal cycle” is becoming shorter, and as it does the period of market undersupply has virtually disappeared, leaving little opportunity for periods of profit for the FPD makers. Mr. Hwang observed that this will likely lead to a shakeout as companies vie to become one of the small number of remaining profitable players.
While challenges exist, though, Mr. Colley reminded the audience of the strengths of the Taiwanese FPD industry, and he offered several suggestions for the industry to reshape itself moving forward. He suggested that mergers and acquisitions should be encouraged, and that collaboration with established major brands from other countries should be considered. Another approach is to become recognized brand names in the BRIC markets, although given the “manufacturing” rather than “branding” emphasis normally pursued in Taiwan, this could be difficult. He also noted the need to excel in product design and innovation, as future markets will demand differentiated and leading-edge products, and that is where margins will be largest.
In his conclusion, Mr. Hwang offered the observation that this FPD industry in Taiwan is growing and maturing, and that new ways of looking at challenges and opportunities will be the path to future success. He urged participants at the SEMI FPD Expo 2007 show to allow the next generation of consumers, product developers and leaders to decide the future of the Taiwan FPD industry, thereby reflecting the dynamism and optimism of those who will the country’s – and the industry’s – next leaders.