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 October 2020 LG Electronics started shipping the world's first rollable OLED TV, the 65" 65RX OLED TV. The price is set at KRW 100 million (USD 87,000). That price was actually cheaper than expected - but according to a report from Korea LGE managed to sell only 10 such TVs.
According to the report, it's not just the high price that is keeping consumers away - the TV, which is based on rollable glass, is not very durable.
LG Electronics announced it sold 2.04 million OLED TVs in 2020, the first time it passed the 2 million sales market. This represents a growth of 23.8% over 2019.
According to Omdia, LG Electroncis holds a 56% market share of the global OLED TV market. The average selling price of LG's OLED TVs was $1971.9, over four times higher than the average selling price of LCD TVs.
Last month we learned that LG Electronics is considering the future of its Smartphone business - which means LG could end up selling, closing or downsizing its mobile unit.
LG is developing a rollable smartphone, which was reportedly going to ship in early 2021. The future of this exciting rollable OLED device is not clear. Yesterday a report in Korea's Yonhap News suggested that the project is cancelled, although LG Electronics later denied this report and says that the company did not make any decision on 'future phone products' - which of course doesn't mean the project could indeed be cancelled or put on hold in the future.
DSCC published an interesting post that details the production costs of both WOLED and miniLED TV panels. So first of all, it details LG's current costs for producing OLED TVs, as you can see in the chart below. The costs of producing larger 77-inch and 8-3inch panels are significantly larger than the costs of 65-inch and smaller TV panels:
Interestingly, DSCC says that in 2020, the production costs in LG's Guangzhou fab was higher than the costs in LG's Korean OLED TV fab as the yields in Korea are higher - but this will change in 2021 as China has lower costs for depreciation, personnel and more. DSCC estimates that production costs for a 55-inch or 65-inch WOLED panel will be 14% lower in China than in Korea.
Ireland-based OLED IP company Solas OLED announced that LG Display settled its OLED TV patent dispute with the company, and has agreed to pay a license for its patents. This resolves a number of patent infringement actions (in the US, China and Germany) brought by Solas against LG Display and a certain number of its customers, including Sony Corporation.
According to a new report from Korea, LG Display is enjoying high demand for its 48-inch OLED TV panels, especially from gamers, and the company aims to expand its production of such panels.
LGD currently produces the panels at its new Guangzhou OLED TV fab, in which it uses one 8.5-Gen glass plate to produce two 77-inch panels and two 48-inch panels. It now plans to start making 48-inch displays in its Paju OLED TV fab, where it will cut one 8.5-Gen plate to 8 48-inch panels.
According to reports from Vietnam, LG Display plans to expand its OLED TV module production facility in Hai Phong, Vietnam, in a $750 million investment. If approved, LG's plan will increase its total investment in Vietnam to $3.25 billion.
Yesterday we posted that according to our information, LG Electronics is planning to release a second OLED monitor soon, with a 27-inch OLED panel. Today B&H added an early product page, listing the new monitor with a $2,996 price tag. The model number is indeed 27EP950B as expected. B&H does not list any other details or even a photo of the monitor, but you can already pre-order the monitor.
Last month LG Electronics announced its first OLED monitor, the 31.5-inch 4K UltraFine OLED Pro, model 32EP950. According to online reports, LG Electronics is planning to release another OLED monitor, this one with a 27-inch panel (likely to be model number 27EP95).