After plunging by more than 80% in January, shipments of 9.7” liquid crystal display (LCD) panels intended for the iPad rebounded 158% in February as Apple resumed purchasing in big numbers, according to a report from information and analytics provider IHS.
Shipments of 9.7” panels rose to 3.0 million units in February, compared to 1.1 million units in January. Apple had slashed orders in January for the 9.7” panels after ordering approximately 6.1 million units a month earlier in December, ostensibly to fulfill annual contract purchase agreements with suppliers Samsung Display and LG Display. Apple resumed ordering in February on a larger basis as it prepares to transition to its next-generation iPad later this year, its fifth iteration – not counting the iPad mini – of the industry’s best-selling tablet since it was first released in 2010.
The shipment increase enjoyed by the 9.7” size in February was the only one of its sort in the tablet segment. All other tablet sizes posted decreases, including 8% for the 7.9”, used in the Apple iPad mini; to 12% for the 7.0”, used by several brands and the white-box space. Tablet panel shipments amounted to 18.3 million units for the period, down 7% from 19.6 million units.
But despite the spike in Apple’s orders, global shipments overall of large-sized LCD panels fell in February to 62.1 million units, down 4% from 64.9 million units in January. Declines occurred in three out of the four applications where the panels are used – in TVs, monitors and tablets – with the notebook panel space the only area to see a rise in monthly shipments.