2015 was a great year for OLED displays: shipments we up 53% to almost 275m compared to down year in 2014, where shipments dropped 17%.
Figure 1 OLED Display Shipments and Growth by Application
AMOLED display revenues in 2015 grew to almost $13b up 40% vs. 2014, which was a down year at -18%.
Figure 2 OLED Display Revenue and Growth by Application
The growth was driven by Samsung Display’s efforts to:
· Make flexible display technology a high volume commercial product (Samsung G 6 Flex and Flex +.
· Expand its market and sell to a number of smartphone OEMs. By the end of the year, almost every OEM announced a new product that used AMOLEDs.
LG also contributed to AMOLED sales for the first time in any material consequence as it sold just over 400K TVs and due to Apple’s introduction of their watch, they shipped ~14,000 flexible OLED displays. The 400K was 2/3 of LG’s goal but by the end of the year, LG’s TVs were within 10% - 20% of high end 55” and 65” LCD TV prices.
2015 also saw the introduction by Samsung of AMOLED transparent monitors for use in retail and other business applications. LG announced that they would also enter the market in 2016.
The rest of the announced OLED suppliers, AUO, JOLED, BOE, Tianma, Truly, and Visionox were relatively quiet, announcing plans and prototypes but shipping very small amounts of commercial products. AUO shipped displays for smartphones and Visionox starting producing 1.45" AMOLEDs, based on two AMOLED design wins.
From a technology perspective, there were a number of announcements:
· Samsung said they were using Kateeva IJP equipment to deposit organic material as part of a thin film encapsulation process
· LG demonstrated large rollable panels that could be commercialized as soon as 2017
· DuPont opened a new facility where it claimed they would produce the purest soluble organic material for use with IJP. DuPont also signed a JDA to work with Kateeva. However, the company provided no specs on the material
· Merck announced a new facility to produce soluble phosphorescent organic material and provided specifications for red and green material. The specs indicated performance levels of 1/3 the lifetime of vacuum deposited material and close to the same efficacy. Merck is known to be cooperating with Epson, a maker of IJP equipment.
· Idemitsu Kosan (Japan) and Doosan Corporation (Korea) agreed to develop, manufacture and sell OLED materials using the other company's patents. Idemitsu provides fluorescent emitters to LG, Samsung and a host of other display and lighting companies, while Doosan provides HIL/HTL material to Samsung and others and is probably one of the largest revenue generators for organic material used in displays. The combination could be a formidable combination in the future. Idemitsu is also aligned with Mitsui Chemicals.
· Dow Chemicals and DuPont announced their intent to merge and to eventually from three separate companies. Dow claims to have the largest revenue from organic material and while only a small percentage of Dow’s revenue it is likely that the DuPont efforts in OLEDs will be combined under the auspices of the Dow Chemical unit wherever it ends up. DuPont has never generated any revenue in the production of commercial OLED products.
Finally, we ended 2015 with the Korean news agency ET News, Japan’s Nikkei and Reuters starting an avalanche of market reports, claiming the Apple would soon be using OLED displays in their landmark product, the iPhone.
We start out where we left off. Apple is likely to sign contracts with at least two OLED panel makers and possibly a third.
o Apple will announce it has contracted with Samsung and LG to supply OLED displays for the iPhone 8 starting in the 4th quarter 2018.
o Apple will continue negotiating with JDI to supply OLEDs beginning in 2019 or 2020.
o LG will announce it is switching from fluorescent red and green to phosphorescent red and green in 2017 in preparation for supplying OLED smartphone OLED displays that are comparable to Samsung’s product.
o OLED display shipments to Apple are likely to be ~30m units in 2018 and ~ 70m in 2019 as Apple ramps up.
o JDI will have a difficult time meeting the Apple spec in their first production fab a 6th Gen conversion from a-Si LCD.
o Samsung will begin expansion of its 6th Gen flexible A3 fab to meet Apple’s needs and LG will also begin order equipment for its 6th Gen flexible fab, leading to the conclusion that the Apple iPhone 8 will have a flexible display adding to JDI’s learning curve.
o It is unlikely that any of the Chine OLED panel makers will be ready to ship volume displays to compete with LG or Samsung.
o AUO will also leave the OLED smartphone market to the Koreans and Japanese
o Foxconn (Innolux) will be in a learning mode as it builds its 6th gen OLED fab in Taiwan
o LTPS prices will start to fall as smartphone manufacturers gear up to use OLEDs
o Foldable displays will make their appearance in a smartphone by Samsung, but it is more likely to be a prototype or near-production model.
Table 1 OLED Panel Shipments by Smartphone OEM (m)
The shipment volumes are based on the following assumptions, regarding the use of OLED displays as a percentage of total smartphone shipments by OEM.
Table 2 Percentage of OLED Panel Shipments by Smartphone OEM
The estimated Apple OLED utilization is based on the adoption rate of new iPhones in the first and second years of introduction, assuming that the new iPhones are introduced late in the 3rd calendar quarter, as shown in the following table.
Table 3 Shipments by Quarter of Newly Introduced iPhones
Source: CRPi, OLED-A
· OLED TVs
o LG will remain the only supplier of OLED TVs and shipment volume will grow from ~430K in 2015 to ~1100K in 2016. Prices for 55” and 65” should become competitive with high end LCD TVs and end up at a premium of 10% to 15% in panel cost
o Samsung will not announce an OLED TV in 2016, but will continue its R&D efforts. Since Samsung is so dependent on high end LCD TVs, it makes sense to keep flogging that horse until they are ready to begin shipping OLEDs. The introduction will likely come in 2017 when Samsung will differentiate its high end OLED TVs, with 8K resolution, and HDR promoting a TV ready for the future. They expect to achieve this performance with some form of transparent graphene based electrodes and a top emission architecture using IGZO and RGBW, with phosphorescent yellow and fluorescent blue material. It is unlikely that soluble material will have competitive lifetimes to be used in TVs, although Samsung will be working on the approach.
o BOE will deliver a sample of 55” OLED TVs to a brand in China and will use the results and evaluation to decide if it is ready to commit to a Gen 8.5 production facility. The architecture will be metal oxide TFTs (likely IGZO) and RGBW similar to the LG concept.
o Decisions/Decisions – LG needs to select the substrate size for its Paju facility in Gyeonggi Province. Samsung will decide on a fab size for OLED TVs. BOE will decide if is ready to commit to OLED TVs. AUO will not be ready for OLED TVs. No other Chinese panel maker will be ready to commit to OLED TVs, although a big indicator will be how successful Skyworth is in selling 200K 55” and 65” OLED TVs from LGD.
· Other OLED Display Activity
o LGD, Samsung and possibly AUO will introduce OLED panels for automobiles. They will have to demonstrate both the ability to operate in high temperature environments (>100°C) and long shelf lives. The most future looking displays will be conformable, from Samsung and LG. It is unlikely that any design wins will be announced.
o New applications, such as transparent monitors, VR, video walls, rollable displays and notebook/tablet combos will emerge.
o The potential threat of BOE and CSOT building Gen 9 or Gen 10 fabs targeting 65” TVs will cause the OLED TV makers to reconsider their fab sizes.
o JOLED will announce it is ready to produce tablet size OLED panels by the end of 2016.