9/30/2003 - The evolution of the "enhanced offering" supplier is changing the makeup of the competitive environment. Manufacturers have enhanced their key-switch business by offering other allied input technologies (touch screens being a very popular offering), as well as other componentry or electronics including various display technologies, electromechanical switches and panels, and flex circuits. A few are even manufacturing their own printed circuit boards.
OEMs are less likely to swap out keypad interfaces with more expensive touch screen technologies than to add the technology to enhance current product offerings. OEMs are also looking for one-source shopping - one source for the keypad, display, panel, bezel, flex circuitry, wiring harness, and everything else. Increasingly, the OEM seeks the keypad vendor that can do it all for them, in one sitting.
Over one-half of OEMs expecting to replace all or part of their keypad/keyboard purchases with different switching technologies mention touch screens as the primary technology at which they are looking.
However, close to 20% state implicitly that any use of touch screens in their products would be in an enhancement mode, rather than as a complete displacement of the original input technology.
Nevertheless, competing switching technologies continue to be a displacement threat to membrane switches and elastomeric keypads in those mission-critical areas requiring protection from chemical or severe environmental assault - those areas where the cost differential is not a hindrance.
Many of these technologies are still prohibitively expensive for the global replacement of the average, normal use keypad; even though it too is subject to the typical day-to-day assault from weather, water, dust, and the occasional pen, fist or screwdriver.
"As over one-half of product-based problems refer to issues of durability, the OEM will continue to seek out keypads or other input devices that will prove tough-standing up to whatever comes their way," states John Gordon, VDC analyst.
Founded in 1971, VDC is a technology market research and consulting firm that specializes in industrial and commercial electronics, computing, communications, software and power systems markets.
For further information about "The North American Market for Keyboards & Keypads, Ninth Edition" or any other VDC service contact: John A. Gordon, Program Manager, 508-653-9000, ext. 136, firstname.lastname@example.org
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