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Film converters adapt to changing smartphone market

By: Rebecca Kanthor
PLASTICS NEWS CHINA

June 11, 2013

SHANGHAI — At the China International High Performance Film Manufacturing Technology Expo, protective film converters were talking about the current state of the smartphone market.

"The wave has peaked," said the managing director of one film company with production base in China, who asked not to be named. "You can see from Apple's stock price." He added, "Most people have invested in a smartphone already."

"I have to prepare for the worst," he said, before continuing on that he thinks that there will be a new wave of innovation in smartphone technology and he is waiting to see what that will bring.

Taiwanese company InTech Materials Co. has seen its business shift dramatically in the past few years. Until recently, it mostly manufactured optically engineered multifunctional films for smartphones, with 80 percent of its business tied to the top names in the global smartphone market.

Now, more than half of its business is with Chinese-brand smart phones, said Jonathan Huang, the company's CEO.

The increase in screen size of the newest models of phones has been good news, Huang said, but the company is still looking to diversify into new markets, including the semi-conductor market.

"We have to diffuse the risk," he said.

While some companies expressed pessimism about the smartphone touchscreen protector market, at least one producer was optimistic. Hong Kong-based Hansford Enterprises Ltd. product director Ben Ng said: "Everyone is using electronic devices, so we are sure that the market is huge."

He says the key to his optimistic outlook is his company's specialization approach. The year-old company is putting a range of products on the market next month including a patented no-slip silicone rubber phone protector, and one containing an anti-bacterial additive.

In the two days at the show, he reports he had orders for 10,000 of his 4D iSuit protectors from domestic and foreign clients.

"If Apple is going down what is going up? Samsung," he said. "If cell phone use is declining that is a problem, but it is not."

He added that the company plans to expand to manufacture protective films for tablet and computer screens in the future.