Japan Misses on OLED Panel Production but Leads in OLED Tools and Components
August 28, 2017
Japan may have been the first country to build AMOLEDs, but South Korea now dominates the production of next-generation OLED display panels as JDI, Sharp and Sony have missed the transformation. Now while these panel makers struggle to survive, Japan is carving out its own niche as a support player in the booming market. The market is projected to grow to around 3 trillion yen ($27.1 billion) in 2018. Among the Japanese companies cashing in on the trend is Idemitsu Kosan, which supplies materials used to produce panels, and Canon Tokki, which leads the market in VTE deposition tools and in coater developers.
Figure 1: Japanese Contributing to OLED Production
Mitsubishi Chemical is another player, aggressively pursuing production of a material used in panels for TVs. Earlier in August, the company set up a marketing team specializing in OLED display panels at its Kurosaki Plant in the southern Japanese city of Kitakyushu. The team, which will comprise 20 to 30 members well versed in related technologies, markets a light-emitting material to South Korean and Chinese manufacturers. The material is employed in the low-cost "printing method" of OLED panel production. They are working on replacing VTE equipment with printers for large OLED displays. After receiving orders, the company will start making the material, which should see use in OLED TVs scheduled to hit the market in 2018.
IHS Markit projects global shipments of OLED display panels to jump 63% in 2017 from the previous year to $25.2 billion. South Korean makers Samsung Electronics and LG Display account for most of the market.
Source: Companies, OLED-A
Mizuho Securities forecasts that 47% of all new iPhones will be equipped with OLED panels. As more smartphones makers transition to OLED, the market for the panels can only grow, prompting Nissha Printing to step up marketing of a material for touch panels. OLED TVs are taking off in Japan, with retail prices declining as Sony, Panasonic and other domestic makers enter the market. Tokyo-based market research firm GfK Japan recently said that unit sales of OLED TVs in the first half of 2017 soared nine times from the same period in 2016. The average price of 55-inch OLED TVs stood at 360,000 yen in June, compared with 150,000 yen for LCD TVs, according to BCN, another Tokyo-based market research company. Despite the price difference, OLED TVs are more desirable and prices are coming down. Some e-commerce sites are offering 55-inch OLED TVs for less than 200,000 yen. And according to large Japanese retailer Bic Camera, sales of OLED TVs at one of its Tokyo stores have increased 30 to 40 times since last year.