Analysts Don’t See Flexible OLED Shortage Ending Soon

August 18, 2017 - Written By Daniel Fuller

Flexible OLED display demand heavily outweighs supply for the time being, and Chinese analyst firm Sigmaintell sees things continuing that way for a while, possibly for a few years. The firm stated that this is mainly due to many display makers being in the preparation phase as far as manufacturing flexible OLED displays, with most OEMs manufacturing relatively few or even none for the time being. Big names like LG Display, Samsung Display, Tianma, and BOE are all working on expanding their flexible OLED deployment numbers, and are poised to cumulatively spend somewhere in the area of 600 billion yuan in the next three years, or nearly 90 billion USD.

Flexible OLED displays aren’t just present in bendable concept devices; the specialized panels are also in many devices with curved displays, and even some with regular displays, as they’re more durable than a normal glass-backed OLED display. Demand from major smartphone OEMs like Samsung, LG, and Apple is enough to outweigh the current supply, making it difficult and expensive to get flexible OLED panels. Naturally, this means that until factories are finished and things like production and the shortage are taken care of, it will be quite unlikely to see curved OLED panels making it into curved devices.

Samsung Display and LG Display have spent massive amounts and shut down many of their more traditional manufacturing lines in order to increase production of curved OLED displays. Samsung Display has recently gotten a contract with Apple, giving it a possible financial edge over competitors in flexible OLED investments. LG, meanwhile, has been busy with research and design, with a giant flexible OLED display made for signage to show for it. The display is not only flexible, but also able to be made semi-transparent, allowing it to be used in a number of creative signage applications. Analysts are even painting LG Display’s exploits in the TV world as potentially market-changing at this point. The two rival firms have factories being converted, built, and upgraded, and are set to rule the market once all of those operations are complete, unless any competitors decide to make major investments in the interim.