Not everybody was on board with OLED display technology when it first debuted, or even when Samsung pushed to make it mainstream, incorporating it into their flagship Galaxy S lineup. Years later, many manufacturers are gradually phasing out their LCD display businesses to manufacture OLED displays. Samsung Display, Samsung's in-house screen manufacturer, seems to be ready to move on to the next step. While everybody else is selling off LCD assembly lines and equipment to invest in creating OLED displays, Samsung is doing the same to invest in flexible OLED displays, to the tune of about 3 trillion won, or $2.56 billion. This comes on the heels of them laying out 2 trillion won during the first half of the year to bolster their factories' ability to produce flexible OLED displays.
Flexible OLEDs have a wide range of applications, many of which Samsung already has a hand in. Samsung offers curved TVs, curved displays in their Galaxy S Edge phones, and is working on flexible, foldable devices. Already the top producer of OLED displays, with a whopping 95% of the market in their grasp, Samsung is moving fast to capitalize on projected early growth of curved OLED displays, which they are driving with their own products. In order to drum up the cash to outfit their factories for the creation of this new type of display, they're selling off LCD lines in short order. The latest is an L7, or 7th generation LCD, assembly line from their factory in South Chungcheong Province, which was mainly responsible for manufacturing displays for mid-size TVs.
This scramble to refit their lines and aggressively chase down new markets comes a month after Kwon Oh-hyun took the helm of Samsung Display. With this latest sale and the requisite conversions, four out of six Samsung factories will be manufacturing OLED displays in some capacity. The new investments will be happening throughout 2016, which means that the factories bought and outfitted using that money will likely begin producing in 2017. This means that the current shift in Samsung's manufacturing processes may signal an overall shift in the market toward flexible OLED displays, a commodity produced by relatively few competitors. If Samsung has their way, the rise of the flexible OLED will be history repeating itself, with them seizing the market early on and never letting go, just as they did with OLED displays.