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OLEDs want a slice of TV market

Posted: 21 Apr 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:OLED? AMOLED? smart phone? PMOLED?

Semenza: Beyond the technical challenges, AMOLED faces the market challenge of competing with TFT LCD.

2009 was a good year for OLED with revenues up 35 percent over 2008, reaching $826 million. Active matrix OLED (AMOLED) has been growing faster than passive matrix (PMOLED), and AMOLED revenues overtook PMOLED for the first time in Q1 09. Shipments were flat, as the growth in AMOLED was canceled out by the decline in PMOLED. AMOLED shipments passed 22 million, triple that of 2008.

DisplaySearch expects continued momentum in 2010, with growth forecasted at 54 percent, resulting in revenues of $1.3 billion. The growth will be driven by the use of AMOLEDs in mobile phones. While the AMOLED market has increased in both shipments and revenues, PMOLED is not growing. Nearly 70 percent of PMOLED shipments are for mobile phone sub-displays, which are declining as the market shifts to smart phones. PMOLED demand is increasing in applications such as automobiles, and has been adopted by Mercedes Benz and Lexus.

One key application
Samsung Mobile Display (SMD) has been the top spot both in shipments and revenues, driven by its dominance in AMOLED production. SMD's revenue share increased from 69 percent in Q2 09 to 71 percent in the next quarter. RiTdisplay, which focuses on PMOLED, had a 22 percent share in units and a 13 percent share in revenues in Q3 09. TDK is third in unit shipments, and Pioneer is third in revenues.

The OLED market witnessed consolidation recently, with Eastman Kodak Co. selling its OLED display business to the LG Group, and InnoLux acquiring Chimei Optoelectronics (CMO) and TPO, including their OLED production. SMD is itself the product of a joint venture between the OLED business of Samsung SDI and the mobile display portion of Samsung LCD, and started operations officially at the beginning of 2009.

Nearly three-quarters of OLED shipments are used for mobile phone displays; for AMOLED, the share is approximately 90 percent. Demand for smart phones has driven growth, partially due to Samsung Telecom's promotion of AMOLED smart phones. AMOLED was also adopted by Nokia in 2009. In January, Google announced the Nexus One, which uses a 3.7-inch WVGA (480 800 pixels) AMOLED from SMD.

Even before its formal start at the beginning of 2009, SMD had emerged as the leading AMOLED panel maker. Further growth, however, depends on more AMOLED suppliers joining the market. For Samsung Telecom, SMD is a close strategic partner; to Nokia or HTC (the maker of the Nexus One and many other smart phones), SMD is just a key component supplier. If SMD continues to be a sole source for the vast majority of AMOLED panels, handset makers may hesitate to develop more AMOLED-based models.

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