Finished Musing in 2017
January 08, 2018
2018 may have come in like a lion, with the Dow hitting 25,000, the first Gen 10.5 fab reaching MP, and the first OLED printed displays being released but in reality for OLED constituents, 2017 went out like a lamb.
· Despite an after hours note by the esteemed Goldman Sachs that not only would Samsung and UDC sign a new Agreement or at least extend the old Agreement, they would convert from a license format to a royalty approach and that UDC would release a commercial blue (which resulting in a 5% bump in UDC’s stock price); but there was no new Agreement and no extension and no blue. Samsung and UDC will just continue with the old agreement and compensate for any changes should a new agreement be signed.
· There was no new blue triple emitter despite claims from TADF maker, Cynora that they would be ready by the end of 2017 and no phosphorescent blue from UDC despite reports, again by Goldman Sachs, that they were close. Meanwhile, Kyulux seems to be self- destructing having lost its CEO, Christopher J. Savoie, its VP of Products, Chris Brown and several scientists from Harvard University.
· The iPhone X, which those in the know, forecast as many as 70m units in Q417, looks more like 30m units and the 1 month delay in getting one is now down to zero days, but if you want a new battery for the Apple induced slow iPhone 6 or 7, it will take 2 -3 weeks
· Despite reports of back ordering for flexible displays and the shipment of ~100m flexible displays in Q417, (per DSCC), IHS boasted, a 40% glut in flexible OLED supply, based on the premise that demand for the whole year was only 100m units. Moreover, their credibility was challenged as they forecasted that the glut would continue in 2018 and 2019!
· The hype and optimism by the Chinese press and the Chinese panel makers was widely misread as the whole Chinese OLED industry likely produced less than 20m OLED displays in 2017. Moreover, there is much conjecture on whether they can do any better in 2018.
· LG released flexible OLED panels for the V30 ad the Google Pixel 2 XL and they suffered from issues of Mura, burn-in and extraneous blue and green lines. This phenomena led Apple to say, “It’s an OLED, expect burn in.”
· Apple retained its position as the most profitable smartphone maker with 45% of all smartphone profits compared to #2 Samsung, which was up to 24% from less than 10% in 2016 due to the Note 7 fiasco. Apple’s lead is more a function of mix than either price or cost because iPhones compete only in the high end, while Samsung and the Chinese compete in all categories.
· Samsung, fighting back from a miserable sales performance of it’s QLED TVs, ran a gimmicked comparison of the widely acclaimed LG OLED TV by running a video for 30 minutes on both TVs and then showed the burn-in comparison. Since LG compensates for the burn-in after the TV is turned off, the OLED was disparaged. The ability to correct aging and burn-in ( a subset of aging) can be corrected in real time avoiding all the negativity surrounding OLED panels. Why doesn’t Samsung, LG and other OLED panel makers implement such a scheme?
There is much to look forward to in 2018, including more progress on IJP of OLEDs, a doubling of capacity, the possible launch of a truly foldable display in a smartphone, a 50% increase in OLED TV production from LG, significant improvements in LG’s small/medium capacity and performance, Samsung’s continued investment in OLEDs and their pulling away from the LCD TV market and the maturing of the Chinese and Japanese OLED panel makers. It should be a fun ride and I hope you stay with us.
We will be at CES on Tuesday, so if you want to talk, please send an email.