Mobile manufacturers eye up AMOLED

AMOLED displays are growing in popularity as mobile manufacturers look for an iPhone beater.

According to industry sources close to Digitimes, more smartphone brands will implement the display that has, so far, been mostly the sole plaything of Samsung.

Samsung Mobile Display, which has already been mucking about with a flexible display at CES, holds a huge 98.3 percent share of the AMOLED market. But with the Hitachi, Toshiba and Sony merger rumoured to be on the cards, Samsung’s place in mobile display overall will face stiff competition.

In the second half of 2011 we can expect a shift towards AMOLED panels, thanks to top end features like its high brightness.

As display analysts at Meko told us a while back, there are concerns over the cost of the panels, and this has continued to linger on with industry sources still wary of the price tag.

But with Samsung finally getting its 5.5G  production up and running we could see the prices coming down.

Aside from tablets, which seem to be too large for AMOLED display for anyone without a footballer’s salary at this point, smartphones are one of the most popular ways for consumers to splash the cash.

Samsung’s AMOLED-ready Galaxy SII has, for instance, shipped three million handsets in just 55 days, so there is no shortage for demand.

Of course, how happy the Korean firm’s rivals will be over their reliance in acquiring the technology from Samsung could be a problem.

However, according to panel expert at Meko Bob Raikes, while AMOLED displays offer distinct advantages over LCD in certain areas, there are significant hurdles in actually getting the technology widely available.

“AMOLED has a clear advantage for anyone making a mobile handset in that it has a fantastic video performance,” he told TechEye. “And with people increasingly wanting to watch video from their phone it beats LCD in that respect.”

However, the main problem for AMOLED is the continuity of supply.

“Mobile makers don’t want to run out when they are looking to sell tens of millions of units, and while there are 20 or 30 LCD suppliers, it is a problem for the AMOLED market,” Raikes continues. “Samsung are so far ahead in the development of the panels that there is no second source of supply, making it very difficult for companies to guarantee a supply.”

Although both Samsung and LG will be seeing their AMOLED fabs increase productivity throughout the year, Raikes believes that there are significant concerns over a small supply: “A lot of firms will be very nervous about having one of their rivals as the main source of supply.

“For example, it is hard to imagine that Apple would be willing to hand over its design for a new iPhone to Samsung for AMOLED displays considering the court case between the two.

“So while there is likely to be an increase as Samsung and LG factories increase productivity over the year, it is going to be just a drop in the ocean compared to LCD.”