Smartphone’s hardware performance has improved as much as possible and can no longer be the differential point within the market. Following this, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 Edge and S6 Edge, and LG’s G-flex series are differentiating themselves from existing products through flexible (plastic) AMOLED panel applied new designs and functions. Particularly, Galaxy S6 Edge’s higher than anticipated demand means that the ratio between total Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge demand was expected to be approximately between 8:2 and 7:3, but at present it is estimated to be 5:5. To meet this demand, Samsung Display began actively operating A3 line, and carried out investment to convert A2 rigid line to flexible line.
As interest in flexible OLED is rising within the next generation smartphone market, there is much talk that Apple will also apply flexible OLED to the next product. UBI Research’s Flexible OLED Annual Report, published on 18 June, analyzed Apple’s flexible OLED application potential and forecast scenario.
According to the Flexible OLED Annual Report, other than Samsung Display, LG Display is the only company with the technology to mass produce flexible AMOLED. Japan Display and AUO also possess flexible AMOLED production technology and with investment, mass production is analyzed to be possible. Therefore, for the Apple to apply flexible OLED to the iPhone series to be released in 2017, the Gen 6 flexible AMOLED line investment of LG Display, Japan Display, or AUO has to be carried out within 2015. However, as Japan Display and AUO’s mass production technology has not been verified, depending on the currently mass producing LG Display’s Gen 6 line investment timing the flexible OLED applied iPhone release date will be decided.
As the results of analyzing future model’s shipment based on the analysis of iPhone series’ sales progress so far, to meet the demand for Apple’s flexible AMOLED applied model’s shipment in 2020, approximately 170K monthly capa. by Gen 6 (considering operation and yield rate) is needed. Considering the recent trend of 20K capa. per 1 line, 8 or 9 flexible AMOLED line are required, and Apple’s future flexible AMOLED line investment is estimated to be actively carried out.
On the other hand, flexible AMOLED market is forecast to grow at 57% CAGR from 2016, and show approximately US$ 35,000 million revenue in 2020.
<figure 1. Flexible AMOLED Panel Market Forecast>