Apple, looking for another flexible OLED iWatch supplier, to end patent war with Samsung?

There's an interesting report from Korea that suggests that Apple and Samsung are showing "signs of a ceasefire" in their long-running patent fight. According to the report, Apple wants to keep Samsung as its component supplier.

Apple 2011 flexible OLED watch patentApple 2011 flexible OLED watch patent

Samsung Display is a key Apple supplier. SDC makes 9.7" LCD panels for Apple's iPads, and they shipped over 5 million such panels in Q1 2014 alone (Apple is on of SDC's top three clients, responsible for 9% of SDC's sales).

One of the reasons that Apple wants to make amends with Samsung, according to the report, is OLED displays, especially for wearable applications. Perhaps this is another key in the iWatch puzzle?

It was widely reported that Apple wants to adopt a flexible OLED for the upcoming iWatch (which may be announced in October). According to my analysis, LGD may not be able to produce enough flexible OLED displays for Apple (which will require 3-5 million 1.5-inch panels), and in any case Apple will not want to depend on a single supplier. SDC may solve this problem for Apple, but getting Samsung to actually supply those flexible OLEDs will not be easy for Apple. Perhaps the patent war will be a chance for Apple to get a leverage on SDC for these OLEDs.

The new Korean report also suggests that the recent Samsung OLED tablets are a clear sign that SDC can produce OLED displays for large mobile tablets. My own take is that as the quality of OLEDs is surpassing LCDs, Apple will have to start adopting OLEDs at some point, and they will have to keep in good terms with SDC as at least for a couple of years down the line, they will remain the leading AMOLED producer.

Posted: Jun 19,2014 by Ron Mertens