Sixty million tablets will be sold in 2011, and most of them will be iPads, according to a new study by the DisplaySearch research group (

Apple will likely continue to account for the majority of tablet touch screens in 2011 and 2012, yet other brands could catch up in 2012 and beyond, the study says. DisplaySearch forecasts total touch panels for tablets to reach 260 million units in 2016, up 333% from 2011.

“Tablet PCs are the fastest growing application for touch screens,” says Jennifer Colegrove, vice president of Emerging Display Technologies for DisplaySearch. “Most tablet PC products will leverage multi-touch projected capacitive technology, following Apple’s lead. At the same time, a small amount of tablet PCs are using resistive touch, since it is less expense and enables handwriting recognition. There are also some tablet PCs that use digitizers for handwriting recognition and drawing.”

The touch screen supply chain is evolving differently in each region, based on variations in touch screen technologies and customer needs, according to DisplaySearch. Taiwan suppliers are focusing on the overall value chain while expanding manufacturing capacity for touch panels.

Following their success in mobile phones, Taiwanese suppliers are planning to achieve the same success with tablets. In North America, Atmel, Synaptics, and IDT have announced new controller IC products for projected capacitive touch screens. Japanese suppliers have struggled to grow, due to the strength of the yen over other currencies. Several Japanese suppliers, such as Gunze and Suzutora, are expanding capacity of their ITO film lines, says DisplaySearch.