Makers are expanding capacity and improving product attributes to meet the diverse requirements of mobile phone screen protector users.
China suppliers of mobile phone screen protectors are raising production capacity and broadening buyers’ options to parallel increasing demand. The country currently accounts for 80 percent of the world’s output in this line, thanks to the low technology and labor threshold. Makers hope to secure this foothold with the widening selections.
Shenzhen Prestige Rich Digital Mfy boosted its yield by 10 percent last year. As this pushed utilization near full capacity, the company is looking to expand further in the next six months.
Shenzhen Wei Jia Wei Silicone Mould and Products Mfy doubled its output in 2010. General manager Robbin Zhong is optimistic of continued growth this year given climbing orders for use with smartphones and tablet PCs.
Complementing makers’ expansion programs are development initiatives targeted at widening the application base. Whereas traditional models are designed for the iPod and handsets from Nokia and Samsung, some manufacturers have started developing protectors for tablet PCs and mobile Internet devices.
Fortnox International Co. Ltd offers items for Samsung and HTC, while Shenzhen Prestige’s releases are suitable for the iPhone 3, 3GS and 4, and iPod touch 3 and 4.
Further, suppliers are improving product quality. Shenzhen Wei Jia Wei, for example, is enhancing the protection attributes of its releases. Some companies are setting their sights on enabling privacy features.
Manufacturers in China are banking on the broadening adoption of touchscreens in more mobile devices to grow this line. The popularity of Apple’s iPhone and smartphones equipped with touch technology has encouraged the proliferation of screen protectors. Gartner Research estimates these products to be at 362.7 million units as of end-2010.
Mobile phones, in particular, are forecast to account for 58 percent of the global supply of touchscreen gadgets by 2013. They will represent 80 percent of sales in developed markets such as North America and Western Europe.
Touchscreens are likewise increasingly adopted in midrange and entry-level handsets. In fact, worldwide shipments of touch panels for these devices are projected to hit 640 million units this year, according to Digitimes, amid fast adoption in smartphones and white-box models.
One major concern for manufacturers stems from the inability to carry other auxiliary products to provide buyers with a one-stop sourcing solution typical in the accessories industry.
Although some companies currently offer mobile phone and laptop cases, USB cables, and chargers, a number focus on screen protectors.
Moreover, the labor-intensive nature of the line pushes up makers’ costs as businesses adjusted workers’ salaries. This is exacerbated by higher material spending given most inputs are sourced overseas.
Enterprises such as Shenzhen Wei Jia Wei are planning to purchase advanced machines to improve efficiency. The company is also considering building a new factory inland to lower spending on personnel.
The stiffening competition resulting from the growing supplier base is broadening buyers’ options. Selections consist of universal and precut types. The former is suitable for most mobile phones and other digital devices, including MP3 and MP4 players, GPS and digital cameras, and even nontouchscreen electronics. Precut varieties target specific handset brands or models.
Makers offer clear, frosted, mirror and privacy screen protectors in different colors. The first variety currently accounts for about 80 percent of China’s output and exports.A few companies expect orders for frosted versions to increase in the next 12 months.
The key feature differentiators in this line are hardness and transparency. Resistance to water and protection against glare, friction and scratches are likewise important.
Clear models, which typically use PET, have a transparency exceeding 95 percent as opposed to colored kinds that have about 80 percent transparency.
In general, prices range from $0.10 to $3. Entry-level units, which are between $0.10 and $0.20, feature 2 to 3H hardness. These have anti-glare, -friction and –scratch attributes.
Midlevel releases go for $0.21 to $1. Such versions have matte and mirror characteristics, and 3 to 4H hardness. Besides protecting against glare, friction and scratches, these have anti-UV and -fingerprint features.
High-end models, listing at $1.01 to $3, boast privacy attributes that limit the viewing angles to secure information onscreen from other people around the user.
These variants have the same features as midrange counterparts, with some also able to work with the iPad and other tablet PCs. Many comply with SGS, UL and RoHS standards.
More local enterprises are gearing up to release privacy screen protectors to improve competitiveness.
Manufacturers continue to shift from PVC to PET due to the former’s weak anti-scratch and transparency features. Some are tapping film with three-layer synthetic attributes.
The inner level is nonglue silicone for adhesion, the middle is made of PET, and the external part is designed with special coating technology.
Screen protectors adopting this input are priced higher but boast better transparency and resistance to friction, scratches, reflection and soft touch. The screen will not leave glue marks when removed. At present, only a few companies supply these models.
Mainland China manufacturers source most PVC, PET and other film types from Japan and Taiwan.
Units based on materials from the former are typically three times more expensive than regular alternatives.
Note:This article was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.
All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.