Steele presents bullish view on HB LEDs at Strategies in Light

Feb. 16, 2010
LED backlights lead the way in 2010 LED market forecast with total high-brightness LED market predicted to surge 53%.

Bob Steele, Director of Optoelectronics at Strategies Unlimited, took the stage at Strategies in Light and presented a market forecast for the high-brightness (HB) LED component segment. Next year, indeed the next five years, look very positive for the segment with the backlighting application leading the charge now and general lighting coming on increasingly stronger throughout the forecast.

The forecast focuses on the market for packaged LEDs. Overall, Steele predicts a 53% surge in the LED market for 2010 to a total of $8.2 billion. Through 2014 he predicts a 30.6% CAGR ramp to $20.2 billion. Steele stated, "We have not ever seen this type of growth in this market."

Steele's talk took both a look back at what happened in 2009 as well as projected the market looking forward. Last year, Strategies Unlimited predicted a 5% decline for 2009. And during 2009, a number of typically strong markets such as automotive struggled mightily as consumers simply didn’t buy cars at the normal pace. Indeed the auto segment of the LED market was down 18% in 2009 according to Steele.

HB LED Market Forecast (Strategies Unlimited)

As it turns out, the LED market actually rose 5% in 2009. A surge in LED-backlit LCD TVs saved the day reversing in the second half of the year what had been an overall decline in the first half. The signs and display segment, of which backlights are a part, grew 17.5%. The backlight segment is sufficiently strong that Steele indicated it will be broken out as a separate category going forward.

In other applications, the general-lighting segment drove the greatest growth at 24% for packaged LED sales. But Steele pointed out that the growth came from a very low base. Mobile appliances drove a modest 2.8% rise in LEDs sales, but is the largest application segment for HB LEDs. And that segment will benefit from the ongoing transition in the consumer space to smart phones.

In terms of the actual LEDs used, medium-power LED sales soared 152% as the TV makers primarily used this class of LEDs. Previously, the auto industry had been the primary user of such products according to Steele.

Looking forward, Steele predicts the surge in backlighting will continue. He pointed out that some analysts have projected the market as high as 39 million LED-backlit TV sets for 2010. He states, "We believe 22 million is more realistic." The potential obstacles include both the price premium that the LED-based TVs carry and the potential shortage of LEDs to supply the market.

The notebook display and LCD monitor markets will add to the backlight market ramp. In notebooks, 50% of the products sold in 2009 used LED backlights and that number will climb to 80% in 2010.

LED Lighting Market Growth (Strategies Unlimited)

General lighting is of course the other segment with the potential for huge growth. As a whole, the lighting market was down 15% in 2009 mainly due to the decline in the construction market according to Steele. But as mentioned earlier, the LED market for lighting grew 24%.

Steele projects a 32% uptick in the LED lighting segment for 2010. For the near term looking out five years, replacement lamps for the retrofit market will dominate according to Steele with smaller growth for new LED luminaires. He predicts a 44% CAGR for the next five years for LEDs in lighting.