IHS: Flexible OLED Supply To Outweigh Demand 44% In 2018

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Flexible OLED display production is going to overcome demand for the panels by about 44% throughout 2018, according to market analyst firm IHS. The company put out a press release detailing the specifics of how it came to predict the scenario, chiefly blaming slow adoption of flexible OLED panels in the smartphone space for the glut. Should market trends continue as IHS predicts, the supply and demand will remain mismatched all the way through 2020, with the distance between them growing and shrinking in places over the interim. By the end of 2020, IHS is predicting a gap of about 15% between supply and demand of flexible OLED panels.

In the current flagship market, many phone makers are still sticking to rigid displays, with some even opting to still use LCD displays instead of making the jump to OLED. IHS' press release highlights the fact that this is partly because of the advent of widescreen smartphones, which it says will likely continue to compete directly with, and even suppress, flexible displays for quite some time. While some devices currently on the market do use flexible OLED displays, devices using a rigid display to produce a wider form factor seem to have been popularized by Samsung's Galaxy S8, among others, and the trend is saturating the market at the moment. Wide displays can be found in every part of the market, from high-end flagships made by major OEMs, to various OEMs in China whose handsets tend to have a lower price point.

Devices with flexible and curved displays have been put on the market a few times in the past, but none of them have taken full advantage of the possibilities of flexible displays. The LG G Flex was one of the first devices to take advantage of the capabilities of a flexible display, but it did so by offering some slight design quirks and enhanced durability, rather than any major user-facing features that somebody would conceivably use day to day. It is possible that some upcoming smartphones that plan to do just that, such as the Samsung Galaxy X, could change this trend. For the time being, however, all signs point to flexible displays not picking up steam for some time.

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