China is no longer a destination for offshoring — it is becoming more of an an outsourcing economy in its own right. Because certain TFT LCD panels were scarce in 2014, according to IHS, top TV brands turned to TV subcontract manufacturers in China. BOE and TCL were chosen for their semi-set outsourcing and original equipment manufacturing (OEM) TV production in the first quarter (Q1) of 2015, according to a recent report.
“Both BOE and TCL have direct access to 32-inch panel supplies from their captive panel makers, which is welcome news to Chinese TV makers looking to not only grow their branded TV businesses, but also to expand their businesses with TV brands globally,” said Deborah Yang, director of display supply-chain analysis at IHS.
TVs made by outsourcing specialists are expected to reach an industry record of 43 percent of LCD TVs shipped globally in 2015, according to IHS. Outsourcing manufacturing has become one of the most important business strategies for TV brands, because it can improve supply-chain cost management and increase time-to-market business opportunities.
China has, of course, been making inroads in all high-tech manufacturing beyond its leading electronics manufacturing services (EMS) providers. China's indigenous products include PCs, solar panels, network communications equipment, cell phones, smartphones and semiconductors. A major driving force behind TV outsourcing is the constraint on TV panel supply, which can cause TV brands to increase their outsourcing from vendors who are able to secure a stable and competitive panel supply, said IHS’s Yang.
According to the IHS Quarterly LCD TV Value Chain & Insight Report, leading South Korean TV brands plan to maintain or lower their in-house backlight-module-system (BMS) capacity and production in overseas factories, as they use their captive capacity for more mainstream products and for the production of 4K resolution, curved screens, wide-color gamut (WCG), and other high-end product features.
“Most TV brands selling low-cost entry-level products plan to increase their outsourcing from vendors in Taiwan and China,” ‘Yang said. “Japanese TV brand business models are more complex, as they also license their brands to subcontract manufacturers. It is likely that other struggling TV brands may copy Japanese business models, in order to survive in the market.”
Since late in the third quarter (Q3) of 2014, leading global TV brands have been lowering TV retail prices to aggressively pursue market share. They are therefore wielding greater influence over the panel supply, causing panel makers to list them as first-priority customers.
Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Sony, and other leading TV brands with a captive panel supply and a competitively strong panel-supply base continuously gained market share last year, IHS said. While concerns have been raised about another panel shortage in 2015, top TV brands have been able to secure the TV panel allocations they need, in order to meet their ambitious annual targets. “This situation has put pressure on profit margins throughout the TV supply chain, which will also stimulate the LCD TV subcontract manufacturing business,” Yang said.