updated 08:25 am EST, Fri February 29, 2008
AUO Cheap Touchscreens
Taiwan display specialist AU Optronics may have developed an inexpensive touchscreen technology that could drive down the price of the iPhone as well as other smartphones and similar devices, says a claim by the Economic Daily News. The paper points to AUO's partner firm Cando having developed a single-layer, integrated touchscreen display that costs about 40 percent less than what has been seen in the Apple phone. The panel has reportedly drawn interest from several current and prospective smartphone makers, such as HP, Motorola, Nokia, and even Dell. Apple may also look to replace its German-designed touchscreen with the lower-cost design, the report hints. AUO has not denied the invention but says that only the paper has made the claim.
Cando has invested heavily in developing touchscreen panels, spending as much as $98 million on a manufacturing plant to produce newer and larger screens, including a future 12.1-inch panel for notebooks. Any production of the smaller and less expensive screens is not expected to begin in earnest, however, as Cando only expects mass production from the plant to start in May and will start with small runs of roughly 5,000 screens as it ramps up to full production later.
In the iPhone, the touchscreen has regularly been one of the single most expensive components to produce for the device. At launch, the 3.5-inch screen from Balda cost $27 by itself and was considered pricier than other parts, such as the flash storage or the main processor. Its price is since likely to have dropped but may still be more expensive than the AUO and Cando invention, which is not only less expensive but should also be thinner without the need for separate touch and display layers.