Rapidly rising sales of smartphones and tablet PCs in 2010 will cause the global market for small- and medium-sized TFT LCD panels to expand at its fastest pace in three years, according to iSuppli.

In its latest report, the market research firm finds that global shipments of small/medium TFT LCD panels, which are advanced types of displays used in sophisticated mobile devices like smartphones and tablet PCs, are set to rise by 28.1 percent in 2010 to reach 2.3 billion units, up 28.1 percent from 1.8 billion in 2009. This will represent the highest level of growth for the market since 2007, when shipments rose by 49.8 percent.

“Sales of smartphones and tablets are booming in 2010 courtesy of the iPhone, the iPad and a range of competing products. Because such devices focus on delivering a high-quality user experience, many are employing TFT-LCD displays that offer bright, sharp images—a move that represents a boon for the suppliers of these displays,” said Vinita Jakhanwal, director of small and medium-sized displays at iSuppli.

Global smartphone shipments are set to rise by 35.5 percent in 2010, according to iSuppli. Meanwhile, tablet PC shipments will grow by a stunning 787.3 percent, driven almost entirely by Apple’s iPad.

Inspired by the iPhone 4, smartphone makers are adopting TFT LCDs using In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology. IPS supports a wider viewing angle and better picture quality in terms of presentation of color than a conventional LCD. It also consumes less electricity.

Jakhanval said that all TFT-LCD suppliers now are making alliances or developing their own technology so that they can offer IPS displays to their smart phone and tablet customers.

Meanwhile, a competing advanced display technology known as the Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode (AMOLED) also is experiencing rapid growth in the small/medium display market, iSuppli’s electronic display research indicates. AMOLEDs are expanding because of the rise of the Android smart phone market.

Growth in TFT LCD shipments will slow in 2011 and beyond as the expansion of the smart phone and tablet markets cools to more normal levels.

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