Samsung readies AMOLED monopoly

AMOLED displays have received a boost from Samsung’s 5.5G fab, sparking expectations for substantial fab growth in the next few years.

But as the technology grows in popularity rival firms will have some catching up to do if they are going to offer an alternate supply to the Korean giant.

Currently Samsung has a stranglehold on the display technology which could give LCD a run for its money if it can gain popularity.

Following the ramping up of Samsung Mobile Display’s 5.5G fab there are expectations that it will reach its maximum capacity of 80,000 substrates per month by the end of the first quarter in 2012, says a DisplaySearch report.

This increase in capacity is, in turn, expected to drive further growth of AMOLED capacity from 890,000 m2 this year to 2.6 million m2 next year.   Capacity is then forecast to double again in the following year.

Though there have been announcements from LG Display for forthcoming large screen AMOLED, Samsung currently accounts for nearly all commercial shipments.  Furthermore there are likely to be further expansions in the future with as interest in the display type increases.

This means that the firm, which has been selling bucketloads of its Galaxy SII handsets with AMOLED display, is likely to stay at the forefront of the market.  Bad news for rivals if they don’t want to rely on a competitor for a supply of the displays.

Apparently there are plans for other companies to begin commercial production of AMOLED displays.   AUO, LG Display and Chimei Innolux all expected to bring AMOLED fabs to pilot mass production in the next couple of years, and others are said to be looking at entering the market.

Though most are looking at AMOLED displays for small or medium display production, such as for smartphones and tablets, there are plans to move towards 8G plants for large screen next year.

And with LCD panel makers notching up net profit losses for four quarters in a row, AMOLED displays will be a “bright spot” for the flat panel display market.

This means that the burgeoning technology could finally start to make more of an impact on LCD sales as prices come down and it stops being a niche product.

But as display analysts Meko have told us, Samsung is so far ahead of the competition there is a danger of edging others out of the market.

So if others can challenge a Samsung monopoly it could be good news for customers.

If not then it could be that Samsung can withhold tight control over the market, which would be bad news for consumers while others struggle to catch up.

According to Goksen Sertler at Meko Samsung would benefit.

“Obviously if one company has monopoly in a technology this is a good opportunity to keep profit margins high,” Sertler told us.

“This would mean relatively higher street prices for end users. However when other players arrive they would cut costs of panels and street prices would then ease.”

This will be eased by other firms in Korea and in China starting trial production, though there is a long way to catch up with Samsung.

“Other companies have already started their pilot production or even some mass production.
There are some firms which have already invested in OLED technology. Back in February 2011, LG Display was reported to have started AMOLED panel production at its 4.5G plant,” Sertler said.

“Clearly Korean panel manufacturers are ahead of the game in OLED production. AUO originally had announced it will complete work on its first OLED mass production line in the first half of 2011. However it was forced to delay AMOLED production at its 3.5 G plant due to technical
difficulties.

“These are only a few of the players are in the AMOLED production and they will start to mass production eventually.”

 Sertler continued: “AMOLED investment is dramatically important especially for non-Chinese panel makers. LCD panel business have started to swing towards China and away from Korea. Therefore Korean makers have to find new technology to stay ahead in the business.”
 

 

AMOLED Manufacturing Capacity: