Samsung Display Seeks to Broaden Foldable Displays Market
September 10, 2018
Samsung Display is pushing to supply foldable OLED panels to Chinese smartphone makers while supplying a similar a foldable panel to Samsung Electronics. Samsung Display reportedly supplied samples of foldable panels to Oppo and Xiaomi in China. This move is a bit different from the way in which new products such as edge panels were previously released, because Samsung Display is trying to supply new products to competitors at the same time as they do to Samsung Electronic (Mobile), which is interpreted as a desire to create an eco-system in the early days of this new technology. Samsung Display will also expand its supply of foldable panels by using both the A3 and A2 lines in Tangjeong, Asan City, Chungnam Province. The two lines could be used to meet customers' technical specifications. If the touch integrated OLED panel is required, it would be manufactured on A3, and the general foldable panel will be manufactured in A2. Touch integrated panel can be manufactured only on A3. In other A2 facilities, flexible OLEDs are made with no touch. The all-in-one touch is a bit more expensive because it is difficult to manufacture. By supplying foldable panels, Samsung is trying to wider range of players to stimulate the growth of demand for foldable smartphones. Samsung Electronics would be burdened by increased competition. However, in terms of expanding the user base of Samsung Display and Foldable Smartphones, increasing the number of manufacturers and the launch of many products would be beneficial to bootstrap the neophyte market. In August, Samsung Display created a Task Force for Foldable (TF) to the OLED platform development team under the research institute and the personnel scattered under the OLED division product development team. Samsung signaled it was moving ahead to mass production and commercialization. A representative of Samsung Display said, "It was a change in the organization, trying to speed up the problem of the foldable panel."
Table 1: Foldable Display Panel Market Forecast
The latest chatter says Samsung Electronics will adapt a 4.6” flexible OLED display that will be visible when the device is closed so users will not have to open the main 7.3” foldable OLED display to use the phone. Samsung Displaywill manufacture the displays should begin ordering components next month. While component volumes are expected to be between 150,000 and 180,000 per month, yielded production volumes are expected to be 100,000 to 120,000, which would imply a 66% yield, relatively optimistic considering it is a first iteration. As to the display’s ‘foldability’, it is said to withstand more than 200,000 folds, or ~182 times/day over a three year period.
Samsung Mobile has repeatedly stressed that it is more interested in creating a device that has functions that will enhance a user’s ‘experience’, over a device that is rushed to market. It remains to be seen whether that is a hedge or denotes an acceptance of the fact that while such a device would be a technical accomplishment, it should also be one that consumers will buy because it makes their lives easier, rather than one that they can brag about. Digitimes Research also believes that Samsung Display has completed the development of OLED panels with a curvature radius of less than 1.0R and is testing foldable smartphones built using its panels on Samsung Mobile Smartphones. Meanwhile, LG Display is expected to complete the development process of its 1.0R OLED panels ahead of its original schedule set at the end of 2019.