Yesterday I posted that Panasonic reportedly decided to withdraw from the OLED TV business and sell their OLED unit to Japan Display. Today there's a new report from Japan that JDI is now considering to setup an OLED joint venture with both Sony and Panasonic (update: this is now official, the new company will be called JOLED).
The new company would be mostly owned by the Innovation Network of Japan (INCJ) - the same government-backed fund that formed Japan Display back in September 2011. INCJ invested around $2.5 billion in JDI and holds 70% of the shares. JDI was formed by joining the mobile display units of Sony, Toshiba and Hitachi.
This new report is somewhat confusing. JDI is focused on small/medium displays, and it doesn't seem likely that they will also enter the large panel (TV) market. On the other hand, maybe that's why they are seeking to do this via a separate company. Hopefully we'll hear more about this next month.
JDI is already developing small AMOLED displays. In 2013 they announced that they decided to build a pilot OLED display manufacturing line (4.5-Gen fab, 730x920 mm, capacity of 4,000 substrates a month) in its Ishikawa Plant. The company aimed to start small-scale production in the spring of 2014.
Earlier in 2013 JDI unveiled a new 5.2" Full-HD (423 ppi) OLED panel, using an WRGB structure and an LTPS backplane. When JDI was formed in 2011, OLED was already considered to be the 'core technology' of the next generation small size and medium size displays.
Sony is one of the earliest OLED pioneers. The company is currently producing AMOLEDs for professional OLED monitors and also microdisplays for camera EVFs and HMDs, and they are developing many OLED technologies, including flexible technology and new production processes. In 2013 Sony showed 56" 4K prototypes that use the company's own super top emission technology, using AUO-made Oxide-TFT backplanes.
Panasonic, meanwhile, was focused solely on large OLED panels. In January 2014 Panasonic showed some beautiful 55" curved OLED TV prototypes. A year before Panasonic demonstrated 56" 4K OLED prototypes that were developed in collaboration with Sony (and AUO which produced the Oxide-TFT backplanes). Panasonic was using printing processes and Sumitomo's PLED materials.
The Sony and Panasonic OLED TV JV was cancelled in December 2013. Since then it seems that both companies are trying to find a way to stay in the OLED TV market but refrain from the mass investments required to do so. It was reported that Sony is withdrawing from the OLED market (this was later denied by Sony). There are also rumors that both Japanese companies are in talks with LGD To supply them with OLED TV panels.
If the two companies are to join forces with JDI on large OLED panel production, it will be very interesting to see what kind of technologies will be adopted. JDI and Sony are likely to push for evaporation SM-OLEDs (similar to the technologies currently being used by LG and Samsung) while Panasonic will probably try to use their own printing technology with PLEDs. Or perhaps we'll see a mixture of both technologies.