Sales of LCD panels in cell form without backlights are increasing at Taiwanese LCD panel manufacturers. Funai Electric Co Ltd is already purchasing LCD panels in that form from its supplier, Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp (CMO) of Taiwan.

Because cell panel sales have benefited both panel and TV manufacturers, EMS and TV manufacturers that have shifted module process to in-house are increasing.

Many TV manufacturers want to develop and manufacture backlight systems, which are costly and significantly affect TV image quality, on their own. This trend is growing even more through the adoption of so-called "dimming," which controls the use and luminance of LED backlight in accordance with displayed data.

According to Shusuke Hayashi, marketing director at Techno Systems Research Co Ltd, panel manufacturers can expect cell panel sales to alleviate impacts from seasonal fluctuation, help them avoid reducing capital investment and keeping unnecessary process capability, and simplify the logistics as well.

On the other hand, TV manufacturers can also simplify the logistics and secure the panel procurement framework, etc through cell panel sales. Moreover, in China, it is advantageous to import cell panels and assemble them into modules locally in terms of Chinese custom duty.

AU Optronics Corp of Taiwan has recently shifted module processing and begun to assemble cells and backlight systems at its group EMS company, Qisda Corp (former BenQ Corp). Other Taiwanese manufacturers such as CMO and Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd are also considering similar distribution structures.

"Cell form distribution is likely to account for 10 to 15% of all TV application panels in 2008," Hayashi predicted.