According to analysts at Strategy Analytics, Nokia has chosen to use resistive technology, rather than capacitive, in its 5800 XpressMusic (codenamed “Tube”) device which was launched today, bucking the trend of all recent high-profile touchscreen phones. Why? Several factors seem to be at play. While capacitive touchscreen technology offers better transparency, greater resolution and multi-touch capabilities compared with resistive, the price of adding a capacitive touchscreen to a device has remained stubbornly high. But, according to a company spokesperson, the $10-15 bill of materials (BOM) cost saving is not the reason for Nokia choosing to use a resistive touchscreen.
Stuart Robinson, Director of the Handset Component Technologies service at Strategy Analytics, comments, “Since the launch of the iPhone we have seen the LG Prada, Samsung’s Instinct and F480, Sony Ericsson’s Xperia X1 and, just last week, Google’s G1 all follow Apple’s lead by implementing capacitive touchscreens because it is generally considered to be a superior technology. However, with the 5800, Nokia may gain significant traction because the resistive touchscreen can be used with a finger, stylus or plectrum, meeting the needs of users across a diverse range of culturally-different regions.”
Steve Entwistle, VP of Strategy Analytics’ Strategic Technologies Practice adds, “Nokia’s decision to use resistive touchscreen has not caught us totally by surprise. Users in many Asian countries prefer to use a stylus or plectrum to interface with touchscreen devices. Capacitive touchscreens like the iPhone can only be used with an un-gloved finger. We will be reflecting the trend back towards resistive technology in our revised forecast report which will be published later this month.”
Companies that are most likely to benefit from this product announcement include Elo TouchSystems (Tyco), 3M and Nissha, vendors of resistive touchscreen panels. Other vendors including Synaptics, ALPS and Balda who make capacitive touchscreen components are unlikely to see any negative effects in the short-term though, because touchscreen phones in general are still showing significant growth.
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