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Profits You Can Touch

Tamara Rutter
November 22, 2011

If your smartphone is permanently attached to your hand and you can't imagine life without your iPad, than you already understand the beauty of touchscreen technology. The popularity of smartphones and tablets has spiked profits for Corning (NYSE: GLW  ) -- the leading manufacturer of glass for touchscreen devices.

Hand it over
Demand for capacitive touchscreen technology was made popular with Apple's iPhone in 2007. This year, revenue from sales of touchscreen-enabled devices will reach $13.4 billion before soaring to nearly $24 billion by 2017, according to a report from market research firm Display Search. Everything from digital cameras to tablet computers uses touch technology, and the market for such devices is only getting bigger.

While smartphones currently account for the majority of touch panel shipments, tablets such as Apple's iPad and's (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) Kindle Fire are expected to ship 60 million units this year. That said, the real winner is manufacturing company Corning, which should see a sizeable boost in profits as touch technology becomes the preferred display.

The Hercules of glass
In 1879, Corning manufactured the first glass light bulb for Thomas Edison. Today, it creates the thin panels of glass used as protective covering for handheld devices, notebook computers, and LCD television screens.

Corning's advantage in the touch market is the company's patented Gorilla Glass -- known for its durable and scratch-resistant display panels. This specialty glass is being used in products such as Dell's (Nasdaq: DELL  ) Streak 7 tablet and LG's (NYSE: LG