Submitted by Morgan Smith as part of our
The market for touch screens has been in existence for a number
of years, given that such features have been used in ATM's, as well
as other types of kiosks and point-of-sales terminals. It was in
2007, though, when Apple (
) adopted the projected capacitive touch screen technology for the
iPhone that touch screen technology for consumer use really took
off. In this article, I will discuss how global trends in touch
screen technology could essentially triple the size of this market
over the next decade.
Today, more and more existing and newly developed devices
operate using touch screen technology - with screen sizes that
range from just a few inches to more than 150 inches. Following
Apple's 2007 addition of touch screen to its iPhone, other global
companies such as Samsung (SSNLF.PK) also began using touch screen
in more consumer products as well, making this technology even more
common in mobile consumer devices - primarily in smartphones and
Few mobile phones even have keyboards nowadays - and even fewer
of these are considered top tier devices. Worldwide, as of
mid-2012, touch screen devices are being used by an estimated
35% of mobile device users
. However, in the U.S., touch screens account for nearly
47% of the market
In 2012, overall revenue from the touch screen market was
estimated at approximately $14 billion - with an expectation for
that number to triple over the next ten years. Certainly, Apple is
one of the companies driving this growth.
Thanks to its roughly 300 Apple Stores, the company's ability to
sell a sizeable number of its products directly to consumers plays
a big part in the company's role as the low-cost retailer. Although
the final 2012 numbers are not yet available, it is expected that
Apple was on track to sell approximately 25 million iPads
worldwide. This being the case, it is likely that Apple will
continue to grow its direct sales over the next few years.
In addition, while the fourth quarter 2012 numbers only cover 9
days of Apple's iPhone 5 sales, the company sold nearly 27 million
units of this product during that time - making this the third best
quarter for iPhone sales. This equates to a 58% increase in sales
over the fourth quarter 2011.
Apple's retail stores, along with their heavy online presence,
will help the company to boost its sales even more. If investors
can pick up shares of Apple in the $300 per share range, it is
likely that they could see significant appreciation over just the
next 12 months.
Samsung has been yet another one of the leaders in providing
touch screen technology on its devices. The Samsung Galaxy S2 was
voted as the top touch screen phone for 2012 by techradar.com. This
particular device uses Google's Android OS, and it provides users
with impressive color graphics on its 4+ inch screen.
Overall, Samsung is projecting a rise in its operating profit
for the fourth quarter 2012, taking it from approximately $8.1
billion to $9 billion. The company's shares are currently trading
near their 52-week high.
Others making use of touch screen technology include Sony (
) and 3M (
). Sony's new Xperia V phone uses a "sensor on lens" touch screen
that puts the touch sensor on the top layer of display glass. This
eliminates an excess layer of glass on the device, in turn reducing
the distance to the screen. By doing so, it is thought that the
reduced thickness of the screen will improve touch performance,
along with enhancing the quality of the screen's image.
Another coup for Sony investors is that the firm was also chosen
in April 2012 to be one of six companies to team up with Walmart to
provide an in-store digital service that allows customers to
pre-select movies when they open a disc-to-digital account. Sony's
shares are projected to increase by nearly 9% over the next 12
Likewise, 3M has also been offering innovative touch screen
solutions for over 25 years through its MicroTouch brand. Just some
of the areas in which 3M's products can be utilized include digital
signage, point of sale, food service, point of information, and
hospitality. The company also unveiled an 84-inch multi-touch
display prototype at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show.
One company that has been buzzing with activity recently is
). The company caught my attention recently with heavy trading
volume after completing its acquisition of South Korean touch
screen maker Sollensys. This company is making some big inroads in
the touch screen technology arena - including the development of a
wide range of single and multi-layer capacitive sensors and
controller options primarily for mobile phones.
Using its multi-touch sensor module, the company has been able
to offer specialized products like the multi-touch panel for
government applications, the multi-touch medical chart, the
multi-touch menu-order place, and the multi-touch 2-way remocon.
Sollensys also provides consulting in the areas of touch sensor
manufacturing and touch sensor design and service. Sollesys' core
technology lies in capacitive touch screens, which I will discuss
Resistive Versus Capacitive Touch Screens
The core difference between resistive and capacitive touch
screens is that the way they register the presence of your finger
on the screen. Resistive technology senses pressure, and is made up
of several layers. The top layer flexes under your finger, which
puts pressure on the second layer behind it. This tells your phone
which part of the screen is being pressed.
Capacitive touch screens use electrodes to sense your finger, as
opposed to pressure. Capacitive touchscreens will only react to
certain objects that contain electrodes.
The use of capacitive touch screens is on the rise, which
presents a big opportunity for Sollensys, which could potentially
provide Apple and other firms with its touch screens in the
Taking a Look Ahead
As consumers are demanding more in terms of high clarity and
high performance, the big game changer for touch screen
manufacturers will likely be the touch screen sensor material
indium tin oxide
, or ITO. However, as this material tends to be somewhat costly, it
is also probable that consumers will need to trade off more touch
functionality with higher price for their devices.
Looking ahead, it appears that the next big markets for enhanced
touch screen technology are mobile game consoles and ebook readers,
along with car displays and navigation devices on the small screen
side, as well as PC and laptop monitors on the 10-inch and larger
screen arena - all contributing to a projected $40 billion plus in
overall touch screen revenues over the next ten years.