OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) is a new technology that enables brighter, more efficient, thinner, faster and better looking displays. OLED panels feature better refresh rates and contrast than either LCD or Plasma - and can be made flexible and transparent.
Sony has been involved with OLED research, development and production for years, and can claim several OLED firsts: in 2004 they launched the world's first PDA with an OLED display (the 3.8" Clie PEG-VZ90), the world's first OLED TV in 2007 (the 11" XEL-1) and for a while they offered the largest OLED displays (the 24.5" BVM-F250 professional OLED monitors). Today Sony produces OLED TVs - using panels produced by LG Display.
Back in 2007, Sony launched the "world's first OLED TV" (the XEL-1), although at 11-inch, it should not really be considered a TV - maybe not even a monitor. It was only made in small quantities and the price ($2,500) was very high. In February 2010 Sony stopped producing the XEL-1.
In January 2009, Sony unveiled their 'X' series OLED walkman. They claimed it was the best sounding walkman ever, and it's got the best display, too: a 3-inch 432x240 touch AMOLED. Sony has also used a large AMOLED in their NW-A840 walkman.
Sony's main product line is now smartphones - but the company has yet to release an OLED smartphone.
Sony PlayStation VR
In October 2016 Sony launched its PlayStation VR HMD. Sony's VR HMD uses a 5.7" FHD (1920x1080) AMOLED display (produced by Samsung Display), 360-degree tracking and 3D audio. Sony enjoyed strong sales of this VR headset.
Sony OLED microdisplays
Sony are also producing OLED microdisplays, and have several such displays on the market, including a 0.5" XGA (1024x768) panel for digital camera EVFs and a 0.7" 1280x720 microdisplay used in Sony's HMD products.
Sony announced its 2019 TV range, with two new OLED TVs. First up is the Master-Series A9G, that offers "consumer reference-quality image" and features Sony's X1 Ultimate Picture Processor, Pixel Contrast Booster and an automated calibration mode (including a dedicated mode for Netflix).
The A9G will be available in 55", 65" and 77". The Android TV features Sony's Acoustic Surface Audio - which means that the TV stand doubles as a high end speaker.
LGD's largest customer is LG Electronics, but the company is also enjoying strong sales to Japanese TV makers. The Nikkei Asian Review says that in 2018 the company will ship 500,000 panels to Sony and 200,000 to Panasonic, and next year it expects to increase its shipments to Sony to 850,000 units and to Panasonic to 300,000 units. LG Electronics OLED TV market share will be around 50-60% in 2019.
According to Taiwan-based Topology Research Institute, Sony, Oculus and HTC will continue and dominate the VR market in 2019. Sony will continue to be the leading VR vendor, with sales of its HMD to grow 10% in 2019 to reach 2.2 million units.
The second largest will be Oculus Rift, which will see a surge of 80% in shipments to reach 1.7 million in 2019. HTC will also see a nice sales increase of 33% and the Topology expects HTC to ship 800,00 VR HMDs in 2019. In total, Topology expects the market to grow 29% to reach 6 million units in 2019.
The Xperia XZ3 is a high-end smartphone that features a curved 6" QHD+ 1440x2880 (537 PPI) LG pOLED display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset, 4 GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, microSD slot, Dual-SIM (optional) and a 19Mp 4K HDR camera.
Sony's AF9 is a consumer reference-quality OLED TV, available in 55" and 65". The 4K WRGB TVs include Sony's latest technologies, including the X1 Ultimate Picture Processor, Pixel Contrast Booster, and an automated calibration mode. The TVs include a dedicated Netflix Calibrated Mode.
Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC) says that in Q1 2018 OLED revenues dropped 33% compared to Q4 2017 (but grew 39% compared to Q1 2017) and amounted to $5.9 billion. DSCC says that OLED revenues will decline further in Q2 2018 but will recover in the second half of 2018. Full-year revenues are expected to reach $26.95 billion, while the market will reach $57.2 billion by 2022.
Samsung Electronics was the top OLED customer in the first quarter, and together with Apple (#2) the two companies consumer 79% of all OLED panels by revenue.
Sony only started to ship its 2018 AF8 OLED TVs last month, but apparently the company is already getting ready to release its next-generation OLEDs. Sony accidentally listed some new models on its support website - including the XBR-55A9F and the XBR-65A9F.
The page has been already removed, and we don't really know whether these new TVs are real, or maybe these are just future 2019 model numbers.
Sony launched a new OLED microdisplay, the ECX339A, which has the world's smallest pixel pitch (according to Sony) at 6.3um. The 0.5-inch microdisplay's resolution is 1600x1200 (UXGA) and it supports a frame rate of up to 240 fps. The maximum brightness is 1,000 nits.
Sony already started sampling this new microdisplay in January 2018, and mass production is planned for November 2018. The price of each sample is ¥50,000 - or about $460 USD.
The Nikkei Asian Review reports that LG Display aims to increase its OLED TV production capacity to 10 million units by 2021 - which is six times its capacity in 2017 (1.7 million). Next year LGD aims to produce around 2.8 million OLED TVs. LGD's investment in new OLED TV capacity will reach $18 billion by 2020.
LG Display is enjoying a surge in demand for OLED TVs, and OLED TVs sales account for around half of its high-end TV sales (TVs with a price tag of over $2,000). In 2018 OLED's share in LGD's premium TV panes will grow to 70%. LG Display is confident it could even sell 20 million OLED TV panels each year, if it could make them. LG is "betting all on OLED" and minimizes its LCD investments as much as possible.