OLED is an emerging display technology that uses thin films of organic materials to make efficient, thin and high quality displays. OLED panels can made flexible, rollable and transparent. Korea's LG is at the forefront of OLED development and production - as the world's only OLED TV producer and a leading developer of flexible OLED and OLED lighting panels. LG's subsidiary LG Display is responsible for OLED R&D and panel production, while LG Electronics produces and markets OLED TVs.
LG OLED TVs
LG's 2018 OLED TV lineup include the flagship Wallpaper OLEDW8 (which attaches to the wall using magnets), the OLED-on-glass OLEDE8, the basic OLEDC8 and the entry level OLEDB8. The only TV that is shipping now is the 55" OLEDC8 which is priced at $2,500 (note: this is an affiliated link to Amazon).
As of 2018, the only company that produces produces commercial OLED TV panels is LG Display, and LG Electronics is the leading OLED TV producer - although LGD also supplies OLED panels to other companies including including Panasonic, Sony, Grundig, Philips, Metz, Loewe, Skyworth, Changhong, Haier, Konka and others.
While the basic OLED TV design uses RGB OLED sub-pixels to create each 'pixel' (what is referred to as direct emission OLED, the design used in mobile OLED displays used in Samsung's and Apple's smartphones, for example), LG Display opted for a different OLED TV design. The so-called WRGB (or WOLED-CF) architecture uses four white OLED subpixels with color filters on top (hence W+RBG). The WRGB technology (developed by Kodak and now owned by LG Display) is much easier to produce and scale-up, even though it has some technical disadvantages - and it is the technology that enabled LG to be the first company to actually produce commercial OLED TV panels.
LG Display is developing and producing OLED lighting panels, and the company is one of the leaders in OLED lighting. The company produces several panels, including flexible OLED panels and high efficiency panels. In December 2017 LG started mass production at its new 5-Gen OLED lighting fab in Gumi, Korea.
The 5-Gen line has an initial capacity of 15,000 substrates per month - about 30 times the capacity of LG's previous 2-Gen line that had a monthly capacity of 4,000 substrates. LG hopes that the new line will enable it to produces OLED lighting panels at a much lower cost (initial estimates suggested a 95% cost reduction!) which it hopes will trigger the widespread adoption of OLED lighting globally.
In December 2019 Cadillac announced that its 2021 Escalade will sport a 38-inch curved OLED display. Rumors suggested that LG is the producer of this display, and indeed Cadillac now unveiled the car and its next-generation display - and LG confirmed that this is indeed its P-OLED screen.
The displays, which will come standard on all 2021 Escalde versions, include an instrument cluster and infotainment systems, and enable several customizable displays which include AR navigation and night vision modes. There are actually three different displays - from left to right a 7" display, an 14" one and a 16.9" display. The center 14" is the instrument cluster and it is not-touch enabled (the other two do include touch).
LG Display posted its financial results for Q4 2019, with a lower-than-expected loss of $361.6 million and revenues of $5.4 billion - a 10% increase over last quarter, driven by a rise in sales of OLED TVs and smartphone OLEDs.
LGD has given an optimistic forecast for 2020 as it sees higher demand for its OLED TV and mobile P-OLED panels. LGD expects its OLED TV panel revenue to "rise steeply" as its Guangzhou OLED TV fab increases its production - LGD now says it expects the fab to start mass production in March 2020.
According to a report from Korea, Japan's Sharp will start offering OLED TVs in Japan, based on LGD's WOLED panels. Sharp's first OLED TVs will launch by the end of 2020.
According to the ETNews, in Q3 2019 Sharp was the leading TV vendor in Japan - and as the company starts to adopt OLED panels for its premium TVs this could be good news for LG Display and the OLED market in general.
IHS says that smartwatch display shipments continue to rise, and reached 57 million units in Q3 2019. IHS expects total shipments in 2019 will reach 195 million units - up 31% from 2018 (149 million units).
IHS also revealed the breakdown by display maker. The leading producer by far is BOE Display, followed by LG Display (who produced all of Apple's OLED wearable displays in Q3 2019, but this is now changing) and then Truly.
Digital Trends published this nice video that shows LG's OLED booth at CES 2020, which shows LG's newest OLED TV technologies - including the 8K TVs, the Gallery OLED TVs and the rollable TV prototypes and products on display:
LG Display says that it aims to ship over 6 million OLED TV panels in 2020 - that's double what it shipped in 2019. The company also says that it expects its Guangzhou fab starts mass producing panels in Q1 2020, earlier than previous estimated.
Previous estimates, by LG and others, were for around 5.5 million panels in 2020, even before the Guangzhou fab delays. It's possible that LG aims to ship more panels - but some of these will be smaller in size (the new 48-inch panels the company is starting to produce).
Lenovo unveiled the world's first foldable laptop - the ThinkPad X1 Fold. This is a Windows 10 Pro laptop that uses a 13.3" 2048x1536 foldable OLED display. The X1 Fold features an Intel chipset (unspecified yet) and a wireless keyboard. The battery life should be about 11 hours.
Lenovo says the ThinkPad X1 Fold will ship in mid-2020 starting at $2,499. Lenovo reveals that LG Display is the producer of the foldable display.