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Future shines for OLED market, says NanoMarkets

Posted: 09 Nov 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:OLED market growth? lighting market? back lighting? inorganic LEDs?

The OLED sector will grow to $619 million in 2010, up from this year's $135.8 million, said NanoMarkets in its report "Emerging Markets for OLED and Printed Lighting." Though OLED share of the overall lighting market is virtually nothing in 2007, OLEDs will represent about $443 million or 70 percent of the overall $619 million lighting market in 2010.

But that's not to say OLED will not have a hard row to hoe. Challenges will include coping with technical maturation and infrastructure development issues and contending with a highly fragmented market that has already begun a long-term evolution towards different technologiesCFLs in general-purpose residential lighting and traditional inorganic LEDs (ILEDs) in automotive lighting and LCD backlighting apps.

In this scenario, market positioning vis a vis the alternatives, especially ILEDs, will be critical to the success or failure of OLED lighting. NanoMarkets said OLED will be playing catch up with ILEDs and will continue to do so for some time.

Initially, lighting integrators are likely to be more amenable to the OLED that is positioned as a fellow traveler of the ILED on the road to solid state lighting, noted NanoMarkets. They are unlikely to find much appeal in an alternative that's less familiar, lower performing and more expensive, no matter what its advantages.

More design freedom
There will be significant opportunities for OLED lighting in architectural lighting. According to NanoMarkets analysis, specialty architectural and industrial lighting will represent the second largest market for OLED lighting over the next few years, capturing between a 15 and 20 percent share. By 2010, general-purpose lighting will take over second place, representing about $119 million, roughly 27 percent of the $443-million pie.

Meanwhile, OLED face a different competitive situation in backlighting applications for switches, keypads, instrument panels and, to some extent, automotive dashboards and advertising displays. Backlighting in all its many forms will be the largest application for OLED lighting, until 2011, at which point general-purpose lighting will take the primary position, noted the market research firm.

The thick-film electroluminescent (EL) lamp is today's king in backlighting. Designers here are, thus, already familiar with the benefits of using thin, highly flexible sheets of light, and will be attracted to OLEDs. EL is vulnerable in these arenas.

Of a lighting technology's four key parametersbrightness, efficiency, lifetime and costOLED outshines the EL lamp in all but cost, but there it's at a serious disadvantage for the time being. However, as prices for OLEDs go down, OLEDs reputation in the backlighting space will be enhanced as the OLED lamp delivers ILED-class performance in an EL-like sheet of light.

New apps
In 2008, OLEDs will break EL's dominance in the backlighting market, which will hit $2 billion in 2014. From a 0 percent market share in 2007, OLEDs will capture 88 percent share in 2014.

In terms of vehicle applications long dominated by EL lighting, OLEDs will initially account for $4.7 million or so of the $43.9 million market. OLED use will grow continuously, reaching near parity with EL in in 2011 and spiking significantly at several stages of the projection period. NanoMarkets predicts that in 2014, OLEDs will account for $172.3 million of a $207.3 million market for printed vehicular lighting, commanding 83 percent share in the segment.

In the display sector, OLEDs will offer much needed packaging simplification and cost reduction to the process of assembling an LCD and its backlight. Industry estimates place the cost of a backlight at 30 to 38 percent of the total cost of the display today.

Eye on the prize
The granddaddy of all lighting applications is general-purpose illumination for residential, commercial, industrial and other environments. In the long-term, OLED makers have their eyes set on this market, but OLEDs have a long way to go before they can compete significantly in this arena.

The drive toward energy-saving SSL is a clear OLED motivator, but the extremely low price of the entrenched competition is a major OLED disincentive. Incandescent is the king in residential buildings, while fluorescent has a huge presence in the commercial sector, and ILEDs are just beginning to intrude a bit.

In the long run, the general-purpose lighting market will eventually belongs to SSL, first ILEDs alone and then in the company of OLEDs. NanoMarkets notes that from a near dead stop in 2008, the general purpose market for printed lighting will grow to $119 million in 2010 and to over $1.5 billion in 2014, consisting mainly of OLEDs.

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