Sharp to stop producing smartphone OLED displays

Business Korea reports that Sharp will withdraw from the smartphone OLED market. Sharp started producing OLEDs in low volume in August 2018, and Business Korea quotes IHS saying that Sharp understands it cannot compete with Korean and Chinese companies with both technology and price.

Business Korea says that Sharp produced a total of 60,000 smartphone OLED panels - 6.2" 1440x2992 flexible notch-type AMOLEDs that were adopted in Sharp's own Aquos Zero phone. Sharp has already stopped production last month. It is not clear if Sharp will still continue to produce OLEDs for other applications (automotive perhaps?) or will it withdraw from all production.

IHS: Ink-Jet printing to finally become a mass production OLED production process in 2020

IHS says that ink-jet printing of OLED displays is finally ready to enter mass production in 2020. Production will begin at a rate of around 105,000 yearly substrates (209,000 sqm) in 2020, but will grow 12-fold within 4 years to reach 1.3 million yearly substrates in 2024 (or 7.3 million sqm).

OLED TV production cost comparison (IHS, WOLED vs IJP, June 2019)

The first producer to begin mass production using ink-jet printing will be JOLED who will enter mass production in 2020 (it already produces panels but at very low volume). OLED makers in China will quickly follow JOLED with mass production investments starting in 2020 or 2021.

IHS: smartwatch display shipped soared from 9.4 million units in 2014 to almost 150 million in 2018

IHS says that recent years have seen a drastic growth in smartwatch shipments - the market grew from 9.4 million units in 2014 to 149 million units in 2018. In just one year, shipments grew 42% from 2017 to 2018.

Smartwatch display shipments by technology (IHS, 2014-2018)

This rising demand for smartwatches has of course created a rising demand for displays. OLED displays are leading this segment - with around 80% of shipments in 2018 (the rest are mostly LCD displays). AMOLED display shipments were around 42 million and PMOLED shipments reached around 75 million.

IHS: LG's 65" rollable OLED TV costs over $3,000 to produce

At CES 2019, LG Electronics announced its first rollable TV (and the world's first rollable OLED device), the 65" Signature OLED TV R. Market analysts from IHS estimate that producing each 65" rollable OLED TV will cost over $3,000 - more than three times the cost of production of LG's regular 65" OLED TV panels.

LG's new TV can roll up into its base, and has three viewing options - full view, line view and zero view. In Line View, there are six different modes, in which the TV can show the weather, the time, a home dashboard and more. Like the rest of LG's 2019 OLED range, the OLED TV R is based on the company's 2nd-gen Alpha 9 intelligent processor the enables LG's ThinQ AI to offer new display algorithms and Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant.

IHS details the production costs of smartphone OLED displays, say rigid OLEDs carry a 20% premium over LCDs

IHS released its LCD and OLED smartphone display cost model for Q3 2018. According to IHS, a 5.7" 2560x1440 rigid OLED costs $18.62 to produce, a full-display flexible curved 5.8" 2880x1440 OLED costs $22.61 and a Notch-type 5.9" 2438x1125 OLED costs $28.18 to produce.

LCD & OLED production costs (Q3 2018, IHS)

It is not clear how IHS estimates yields - from our information SDC's production yields are much higher compared to the new makers such as BOE and LG Display - which means that yielded costs are much lower at SDC's mature OLED fabs.

IHS: OLED displays take up over 60% of the total smartphone display market in Q3 2018, by revenue

IHS says that OLED panels take up to 61.1% of the total smartphone display market in Q3 2018, by revenues. OLED sales reached $6.6 billion in the quarter, out of a $10.7 billion market.

The leading OLED producer is still of course Samsung Display - which accounted for 93.3% of the total smartphone OLED panel market (and 94.2% of the flexible OLED panel market). Samsung's OLED dominance also helps it to enjoy a 57.8% market share in the total smartphone market (LCD+OLED) - far ahead of BOE (7.8%) and Tianma (7.7%) which are the 2nd and 3rd largest smartphone display producers.

IHS sees 50 million foldable OLEDs shipped in 2025

IHS says that the foldable OLED market will grow from 200,000 units in 2018 to over 50 million units by 2025, taking up 6% of the total OLED market (825 million panels) and 11% of the total flexible OLED market (476 million).

Foldable AMOLED shipments forecast (2018-2025, IHS)

IHS sees fast growth ahead for the market, but the analysts say that smartphone brands are cautious about launching foldable smartphones because the phones should be durable enough for repeated folding and thin and light enough even when supporting a larger display and battery.

IHS: LG Display is increasing its OLED TV panel price as demand increases

IHS Markit says that high demand for OLED TV panels has enabled LG Display to increase its asking price, and the average selling price (ASP) of OLED TVs have risen from $695.47 in Q1 2018 to $712.48 in the second quarter. IHS expects LGD to increase the price to $731.9 in Q3 and $729.96 in the Q4 2018.

Philips OLED 973 photo

IHS estimates that LG Display will ship a total of 2.54 million OLED TV panels in 2018 - much less than what was claimed in a surprising post in Korea last week (3.7 - 3.8 million). IHS sees the market growing to 3.6 million units in 2019, 6 million units in 2020 and 9.35 million units in 2022.

IHS: Apple is developing a new LTPO backplane, may introduce it in future iPhones

IHS posted an interesting article which details a new backplane technology that Apple is developing. So-called Low-Temperature Polycrystalline Oxide (LTPO) combines both LTPS TFTs and Oxide TFTs (IGZO, Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide). LTPO is applicable for both OLED and LCD displays.

In LTPO, the switching circuits are using LTPS while the driving TFTs will use IGZO materials. This could lead to a power saving of around 5-15% compared to the currently-used LTPS backplanes. The main drawback of LTPO, however, is that the IGZO TFTs are larger and so the display density may be compromised. IHS says that Apple may introduce this into future iPhones - but it also says that LTPO will be limited to low-density displays at first which is a bit confusing.

IHS sees flexible AMOLEDs taking over rigid ones in 2020

According to IHS, flexible AMOLED shipments reached 157.6 million units in 2018 - about 38.9% of the total AMOLED market (rigid + flexible). Flexible OLEDs will grow at a much faster rate than rigid OLEDs, and shipments will exceed those of rigid OLEDs by 2020 (335.7 million units). In 2022 over 400 million flexible AMOLED panels will be produced, compared to around 340 million rigid AMOLEDs.

Flexible AMOLED shipment forecast (2015-2022, IHS)

IHS sees demand for flexible OLEDs by smartphone brands that want to diffrentite their products using curved displays and full-screen ones. Foldable displays are also expected to be a key technology for mobile devices in the foreseeable future.

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