According to an industry insider in Taiwan, Samsung is set to acquire Taiwan's PlayNitride for the company's micro-LED technology for around $150 million. Our inside says that Samsung aims to develop micro-LED based displays for VR applications, but may also look into micro-LED based TVs using PlayNitride's technology.
Micro-LED is a promising display technology as it has the potential to enable brighter and more efficient displays compared to OLEDs. It also may be cheaper, but there are still technical challenges to overcome and analysts estimate that micro-LEDs will not be commercialized before 2020.
Apple acquired micro-LED developer LuxVue in May 2014 and has not updated on the technology since, but according to reports Apple is looking into producing small micro-LED displays for future Watch wearables - some say Apple aims to start producing low-volume micro-LED displays by the end of 2017.
Apple is not alone with its interest in micro-LEDs. In 2016 Oculus acquired InfiniLED, another micro-LED startup. Sony is also developing micro-LED displays. In 2012, Sony demonstrated a 55" micro-LED based TV display called Crystal-LED and in 2016 unveiled a large tiled outdoor 9.75 x 2.74 meter display which they now brand as Canvas Display, or CLEDIS.
All this means that Samsung may be just hedging its bets and gaining a foothold in an interesting and promising next-generation display technology. A $150 million investment is substantial - but Samsung is also spending billions of dollars to expand its OLED production capacity so it's unlikely that Samsung actually considers micro-LED as a replacement for OLEDs, unless maybe for specific applications.
Taiwan-based PlayNitride was established in 2015 to research and develop Nitride related materials and applications. The fabless company is now focusing on GaN based MicroLEDs - it is branding its technology as PixelLED displays. According to reports PlayNitride aims to start producing micro-LED chips towards the end of 2017. The company says it can reach a pixel density of 1,500 PPI.