2008, the year of the OLED?

Cowon s9 PMPWhen 2008 began we thought that this will finally be the 'year of the OLED'. Sony, Samsung, CMEL and LG geared up to start making AMOLEDs, which huge investments (over 1 Billion dollars, in total). Other companies such as Toshiba and Panasonic also joined the OLED camp.

We saw the first bunch of gadgets using the new 2" to 4" AMOLED displays (most of them made by Samsung SDI) - mobile phones (such as the Nokia N85), A/V players from iRiver and Cowon and other devices.

TOPLESS project OLED lamp prototype
In the OLED light world, we had the world's first OLED lamp released by OSRAM, and advancements were announced almost every week - from OSRAM, GE, Kodak, Konica-Minolta, Philips, UDC and more. Companies predicted they will start selling OLED lamp products in 2009-2011 - Philips even started shipping product samples to 'designers'.

Towards the end of 2008, the tone was less enthusiastic. The economy is shaken, and companies are less optimistic - Samsung are not so sure about OLED TVs any more, LG and Panasonic seem to be more 'cautious', Samsung SDI's AMOLED sales has dropped and a couple of companies have been closed (MED, OLED-T).

So what will 2009 hold?

Our guess is that the small 'mobile' AMOLEDs will continue to grow strong. It is most likely that we'll see dozens of new A/V players, mobile phones and digital cameras that include such displays. The biggest market is probably mobile phones, and hopefully Nokia and Samsung will continue to introduce new models with AMOLEDs, with other companies will have to start doing the same - Sony Ericsson, Motorola and LG. We're all still waiting for Apple to make an OLED iPod or iPhone - who knows, they might finally try it in 2009...

Kodak wireless OLED picture frame
At the end of 2009 CMEL introduced the largest available AMOLED - 7.6", as used in Kodak's 999$ photo frame. The price of these panels (currently very high) will probably drop quickly, and in 2009 we'll see more devices using those panels.

Sony OLED TV prototype
In May 2008 Sony announced that they'll release a 27" OLED TV (the XEL-2?) within 12 months - which means by May 2009. Samsung are working on 14.1" and 31" displays. The 14.1" ones are for laptops, which will enjoy the power efficiency and might accept the higer prices of the OLEDs. Samsung said these will be officialy announced at CES 2009 (January), and will be available by 2010. They might be able to even make them in 2009...

In 2008 we saw some pretty cool new OLED prototypes - flexible thin displays, foldable phones, transparent 'windows' with embedded OLEDs, and even a 40" High-Def OLED TV by Samsung. Even though these are exciting, it's hard to believe that any flexible displays will become available in 2009 - it will take several more years for this technology to mature. 

2009 - OLED lighting year?

We predict that the most exciting news will come from the field of white-light OLEDs. Hopefully the quick advances in OLED white light efficiency will continue during 2009. If Philips will hold true to their word, they will start selling products in 2009, with GE following suit at 2010.

So is it likely that real, commercially priced OLED lamps will be available? Will 2009 be the year of the OLED light bulb? Our bet is to wait till 2010... but we'll be happy to be wrong on that one.

What are your own predictions?

We'd love to hear your own predictions - tell us what you think will happen in 2009!

Cambridge Isotope Laboratories - Deutreated Reagents and High-Purity Gases for OLEDsCambridge Isotope Laboratories - Deutreated Reagents and High-Purity Gases for OLEDs