Shipments of smaller liquid-crystal display (LCD) flat panels will surge this year, boosted by the growing popularity of smart phones and tablet-type computer devices. Meanwhile, shipments of larger LCD panels used for television sets are in a slump.

Manufacturers of small- and medium-sized LCD panels will ship 2.3 billion units this year, up 28% from the 1.8 billion panels shipped in 2009, research firm iSuppli said in a report released today. The growth rate is the largest since 2007, when the number of smaller LCD panels shipped jumped by 50%.

The increase illustrates the continued growth in popularity of smartphones such as Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) iPhone and Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android-based mobile devices. Additionally, shipments of tablet-type devices, such as Apple's iPad, will surge eightfold this year, according to iSuppli.

The growth rate contrasts with the larger LCD panel market, which has been hurt by lower-than-expected flat-screen TV sales. Global manufacturers shipped 98.8 million LCD panels during the first half of the year, when 76.2 million LCD sets were shipped, indicating a glut of 30%, iSuppli said in a separate report last week. Such widening inventory has caused panel makers to drop prices to near-cost levels.


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