Sharp confirms its plans to start producing OLED in Q1 2018

Last week we posted on reports from Japan that claims that Sharp aims to begin commercial production of flexible OLED displays for its own smartphones in the spring. Sharp's CEO today confirmed these reports, saying that Sharp will commence production in Q1 2018 and will introduce its new OLED smartphones in June or July of 2018.

Sharp 3.4'' flexible IGZO OLED prototype (Apr 2016)

In October 2016 Sharp announced that it will invest $570 million and build OLED pilot lines at its plants in Osaka and in the Mie Prefecture, with plans to begin (pilot) production in the summer of 2018. If Sharp will indeed begin production by the end of March, it is quite ahead of schedule - although of course it remain to be seen whether they will be able to reach satisfactory yields before the summer.

Sharp plans to begin commercial OLED production at its pilot line in the spring

In October 2016 Sharp announced that it will invest $570 million and build OLED pilot lines at its plants in Osaka and in the Mie Prefecture, with plans to begin (pilot) production in the summer of 2018. According to a new report from Japan, Sharp aims to begin commercial production of flexible OLED displays for its own smartphones in the spring.

According to the new report, Sharp already started to produce sample flexible OLEDs at its Osaka fab. The displays are still not ready for production, though. And in any case these will be very low volume production lines.

Sharp still hopes to form a Japanese OLED alliance with Japan Display

In August 2016 Sharp said that it wants to collaborate with Japan Display to co-develop and produce OLED displays. JDI responded saying that Sharp did not actually reach out regarding such a collaboration, but it seems that Sharp did not give up on that idea.

Sharp 3.4'' flexible IGZO OLED prototype (Apr 2016)

Sharp's stock returned to the Tokyo Stock Exchange first section after a year of absence, and the company's president told Reuters that it is going to ask Japan's government it help it form an alliance with JDI. Sharp is also considering an investment in JOLED.

Will FoxConn also acquire Japan Display to create a Japanese OLED alliance?

Last week Japan Display announced a new strategic shift to OLED technologies, as its LCD business is losing money and the company now says that a transformation into an OLED-focused company is its last chance to become profitable.

JDI said it will need to raise new funds to finance this focus shift and overcome its losses. An interesting report from Japan claims that Foxconn is interested in acquiring JDI with an aim to integrate it with Sharp to create a Japanese OLED alliance that will be able to compete with Samsung and LGD.

Sharp to develop OLED TV panels in its upcoming Osaka OLED fab

In October 2016 Sharp announced that it will invest $570 million and build OLED pilot lines at its plants in Osaka and in the Mie Prefecture. The pilot lines will begin OLED production in the summer of 2018.

It was always assumed that Sharp will focus on small and medium sized OLED panels with hopes to join Samsung and become an OLED supplier for Apple's iPhones and iPads. Today, however, Sharp announced that in the Osaka plant it will also develop large-area OLED TV panels.

Innolux is assisting Sharp with its 4.5-Gen OLED pilot line construction in Japan

In 2016 Sharp announced that it will invest $570 million in its OLED business, with plans to construct two 4.5-Gen OLED pilot production lines in Japan (or maybe China?) with plans to start low volume production in 2018.

Innolux AMOLED prototype, 2012

Innolux AMOLED prototype, 2012

Sharp is owned mostly by Foxconn, who also owns Innolux, and reports in 2016 said that the Foxconn aims to integrate Sharp and Innolux's display business, focusing on OLEDs and IGZO technologies. Innolux's honorary chairman now says that Innolux is indeed cooperating with Sharp on OLED R&D, and the Taiwanese company is supporting Sharp's 4.5-Gen OLED factory construction in Japan.

Reports from Japan state that Sharp aims to build a $865 million OLED fab in China by 2019

According to a report from Japan's Nikkei Asian Review, Sharp will build an OLED production line at Foxconn's factory in Zhengzhou (northern China). The investment in this new fab will total around 100 billion yen (about $865 million) and production will begin in 2019. Sharp is specifically aiming to supply screens for Apple's future iPhones.

In October 2016 Sharp announced that it will invest $570 million to build OLED pilot lines in Osaka and in the Mie Prefecture. The pilot lines will begin OLED production in the summer of 2018. It was later reported that Sharp is considering to establish those lines in China instead - so it may be that this new Zhengzhou fab is actually the one reported in October.

Sharp's new CEO says Apple will switch from LCDs to OLEDs in future iPhones

Apple's move to adopt OLED displays in future iPhones has been discussed many times in the past, and now it is Sharp's newly appointed CEO Tai Jeng-wu turn to "confirm" these reports. During a talk in Tatung University, Tai said that Apple is indeed switching to an OLED display in future iPhones.

Sharp 3.4'' flexible IGZO OLED prototype (Apr 2016)

Tai further commented that OLED represents the best chance for Apple to truly innovate its displays - so this is both a problem and an opportunity for Apple. This cannot be considered to be a real confirmation as many reports suggest, but it is pretty clear that OLED is the way to go for future displays.

SDC and LGD not too worried about Sharp's flexible OLED plans

When Foxconn acquired a majority stake in Sharp for $3.5 billion, it was reported that Foxconn aims to invest a total of $1.8 billion in OLED technologies, as Foxconn aims to become an OLED supplier to Apple. In June 2016 Foxconn's president said that the company aims to start mass producing OLEDs as early as 2017, but this was way too optimistic - production will probably start at 2018 or even 2019.

An interesting article in Business Korea states that both LG Display and Samsung Display are not very worried about this competition from Japan. LG Display estimates that actually mass producing flexible OLEDs will not be as easy as Sharp hopes - and that the Japanese maker will not be able to compete with flexible OLEDs by at least 2019 or possibly 2020.

Sharp may build its OLED production lines in China instead of in Japan

Following Foxconn's $3.5 billion Sharp Takeover, it was reported that Foxconn aims to invest a total of $1.8 billion in OLED technologies, as Foxconn aims to become an OLED supplier to Apple. In June 2016 Foxconn's president said that the company aims to start mass producing OLEDs as early as 2017, but this was way too optimistic - production will probably start at 2018 or even 2019.

Sharp 3.4'' flexible IGZO OLED prototype (Apr 2016)

Sharp recently announced plans to invest $570 million to setup pilot OLED production lines in Osaka, Japan. According to a new report from Nikkei Asian Review, Foxconn and Sharp new plan is to build the mass production lines in China and not in Japan. The two companies hope that the Chinese government will step up to help with funds. China also represents a larger market for OLED panels (including Apple's iPhones which are made in China).