Google offered to invest one trillion won ($880.29 million) into LG's display panel-making division LG Display as the Mountain View-based tech giant is looking to boost the company's OLED operations, recent reports reveal. According to unnamed sources cited by ETNews, the investment is aimed at improving LG Display's manufacturing operations aimed at OLED screens for smartphones. Reports claim that Google made the offer to ensure that the search giant will have a steady supply of OLED displays for its Pixel smartphones. LG Display has long been producing OLED panels for TVs, but it also has the capacity to manufacture OLED displays for smartphones, as evidenced by the LG G Flex series which uses flexible plastic OLED displays from the company.
This investment comes at an interesting time for the OLED display industry. Samsung, which has long dominated the small and medium OLED panel market, received a two-year contract with Apple for the production of OLED screens for two generations of iPhones. While Samsung is expected to manufacture the majority of OLED displays, other manufacturers including LG Display have been prompted to also produce OLED screens for the iPhone. However, a shortage of OLED displays due to Apple's high demand is expected to occur in the near future, which may negatively affect other phone manufacturers that use OLED panels for their smartphones, including Google. To keep up with the demand, OLED manufacturers have increased the capacity of their OLED manufacturing lines, but it remains to be seen whether that will be enough in the short term. By 2020, Samsung Display and LG Display are expected to triple their annual manufacturing capacity of OLED screens compared to their capacities in 2016, with LG expanding mostly its manufacturing capacity of OLED screens for smartphones.
Google has started using OLED displays for its smartphones back when its smartphone line was still called Nexus, with Nexus 6 from Motorola sporting an AMOLED display. The current smartphone offerings from the tech giant, the Google Pixel and the Pixel XL also have AMOLED displays sourced from Samsung. Based on this report, Google wants to continue using AMOLED displays for the next Pixel smartphones, which isn't surprising in light of recent industry trends.