UBI: the COVID pandemic decreased demand for OLED smartphone displays, while demand for wearable displays have risen sharply

UBI Research estimates that OLED shipments in the first half of 2020 were 231 million units ($13.2 billion), pretty much the same as in the first half of 2019 (230 million, $13.8 billion). UBI estimates that the COVID-19 pandemic decreased demand for OLED displays.

OLED shipments and revenues (1H19 to 1H20, UBI)

Looking at market segmentation, OLED shipments for smartphones decreased from 200.4 million units to 189.8 million units. Foldable phones increased from 70,000 units to 1.7 million units, and smartwatch display shipments increased sharply from 22 million units in the first half of 2019 to 33.5 million in the first half of 2020.

UBI: rigid OLED smartphone shipments dropped by 40% in Q2 2020

UBI Research estimates that OLED smartphone display shipments reached 87 million units in Q2 2020 (down 23.1% compared to Q2 2019, and down 17% compared to Q1 2020).

OLED smartphone shipments (Q2 2019 - Q2020, UBI research)

The drop in rigid OLED smartphone display shipments was 40.3% from Q2 2019 to Q2 2020 - due to a drop in mid-tier smartphone production in China. Flexible OLED shipments actually rose 38% from last year as you can see in the chart below.

UBI Research: 215 million flexible OLED displays to ship in 2020

UBI Research estimates that Samsung Display's flexible OLED shipments to Chinese device makers will triple in 2020, and will reach 47 million units (up from 15.5 million in 2019). Rigid OLED shipments to China will drop from 135 million in 2019 to 110 million in 2020.

SDC OLED panel shipments to China (2019-2020,UBI)

In total, SDC's flexible OLED panel production will reach 155.5 million in 2020, up 34% from 2019. This follows a couple of years of declining volumes (152 million in 2017, 129 million in 2018 and 116 million in 2019).

UBI: OLED makers are developing color filters as replacement for polarizers in foldable OLEDs

UBI Research reports that OLED makers are aiming to adopt color filters instead of polarizers in foldable OLED displays. The polarizer help prevent internal reflections by external light, but they lower the brightness and limit the flexibility of the panel.

BOE / UBI: color-filter for foldable OLED scheme

Using color filters instead of the polarizer may enable brighter panels and also thinner ones which are more flexible. BOE has already demonstrated such a panel back in 2017 (scheme shown above) - and they said it is 23% brighter than a polarizer OLED, and it is also 110 um thinner. Samsung Display is also developing similar technology.

UBI sees fast growth in Polyimide films and ultra-thin glass for foldable smartphone displays

UBI Research estimates that foldable smartphone display makers will continue to rely on both Ultra-Thin-Glass (UTG) and Colorless Polyimide (CPI) films for at least the next five years.

Foldable UTG and CPI market forecast (2020-2024, UBI)

UBI sees demand for CPI films will reach 4.3 million units in 2020 while demand for UTG will reach 3.5 million units. Demand for both products will grow and by 2024 it will reach 37.1 million units for CPI and 30.5 million for UTG.

UBI lowers its 2020 OLED industry forecast due to the Coronavirus

UBI Research lowered its forecast for the OLED industry in 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic. UBI decreased its total market revenue forecast by 4.8% to $36.7 billion.

The Coronavirus effect on the OLED industry (2020, UBI Research)

UBI now estimates that 612 million OLED panels will ship in 2020, down from its previous estimate of 660 million. The OLED TV market forecast was reduced dramatically from 4.9 million panels to 3.6 million.

UBI: high demand for rigid OLEDs may result in conversion of flexible OLED lines to rigid ones

UBI Research posted an interesting note. The company says that rigid OLED shipments (237 million) command a 79.2% market share of the entire OLED smartphone market, up from 64.5% in 2018.

Rigid vs flexible OLED glass area production (2017-2023, UBI Research)

Display makers have mostly invested in flexible OLED production - but currently there is higher demand for the lower cost rigid OLEDs. All rigid OLED lines are currently in full capacity and UBI suggests that we may see some companies converting flexible OLED lines to rigid OLED production - or that we'll see new investments in rigid OLED production.

UBI: OLED production capacity to double by 2023, Korean makers to retain their 80% market share by area

UBI Research estimates that OLED production capacity will increase from 34.9 million sqm to 68.5 million by 2023. LG Display and Samsung Display are expected to increase production of OLED TV and introduce new 10.5-Gen fabs better suited for 65" TV production.

OLED production capacity by country (2019-2023, UBI)

Mobile OLED production capacity will also grow, but at a slower rate - from 13 million sqm in 2019 to 19.3 million sqm in 2023, mainly driven by Chinese OLED producers that produce flexible smartphone OLED displays mainly for the Chinese domestic market. Korean OLED producers (SDC and LGD) will continue to dominate the market and will retain their ~80% market share in 2023.

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