Demand for AMOLED panels has taken off as there are strong indications that Apple will introduce AMOLED display to the iPhone series in 2017. The latest research from WitsView, a division of TrendForce, anticipates that the AMOLED penetration rate in the global smartphone market will surpass 20% by the end of this year and reach 40% in 2019.
South Korean panel giant Samsung Display (SDC) has spent a considerable amount of time and resources in developing AMOLED products for the small- and mid-size display markets. In the past, the demand for SDC’s AMOLED panels was mainly from Samsung Electronics for its branded mobile devices. However, Apple’s plan to use AMOLED panels for next year’s iPhone release has triggered a fresh wave of demand in the smartphone market as competitors are also going to follow suit.
“In addition to its high-end Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series, Samsung Electronics this year has expanded its AMOLED adoption to include some mid-range smartphone models,” said Boyce Fan, senior research manager at WitsView. “Products carrying AMOLED panels are projected to account for 70% of Samsung’s smartphone shipments this year. SDC is also seeing a rise in the sales of AMOLED panels to other smartphone vendors, including Chinese brands. Over 50% of the respective smartphone shipments from OPPO and Vivo this year will be models with AMOLED screens.”
“The market visibility of smartphones with AMOLED panels will rise again in 2017 when Apple is expected to formally deploy this technology for the iPhone,” Fan added. “AMOLED’s arrival will radically change the competitive landscape of the high-end smartphone market by challenging the dominance of LTPS LCD, which has been the main display technology for premium models in recent years. This will further lead to a new round of fierce price competition in the mid- and high-end smartphone panel markets.”
Currently, South Korean panel makers have a tight relationship with AMOLED equipment providers and control most of the capacity for the crucial evaporation process. As the leading manufacturer of small-size AMOLED panels, SDC is set to benefit greatly from the booming market. On the other hand, LG Display (LGD) and Japan Display (JDI) will try to catch up with SDC by accelerating their timetables for the development and mass production of AMOLED panels. LGD and JDI’s efforts will eventually allow Apple to spread its orders out among multiple suppliers. Chinese panel makers have recently ramped up their investments in AMOLED manufacturing as well. Looking ahead, WitsView anticipates LGD and JDI to become Apple’s AMOLED panel suppliers in 2018 at the earliest.