Despite growing pains, OLED market expanding

March 1, 2007
GLEN ALLEN, VA-According to a new report from NanoMarkets, the market for OLEDs used in displays and lighting applications is expected to reach US$10.

GLEN ALLEN, VA-According to a new report from NanoMarkets, the market for OLEDs used in displays and lighting applications is expected to reach US$10.9 billion by 2012 and to grow to US$15.5 billion by 2014.

The advantages of OLEDs include energy efficiency, high brightness, rapid video switching capability, and low weight. Their suitability for use on flexible substrates is expected to trigger a major replacement cycle in the display industry, which is currently entering a period of slow growth as the LCD computer and TV display market matures and economies of scale decline. OLED displays are particularly well suited to the needs of mobile communications and computing because of their low power consumption and ability to support mobile video. NanoMarkets expects OLED-based displays for mobile phones and other handheld devices to reach US$7.2 billion in revenues by 2014.

OLEDs are now offering more than adequate lifetimes, brightness and spectrum ranges and are beginning to find opportunities in the lighting business. Lighting applications that are likely to emerge for OLEDs include backlighting for LCD displays and consumer electronics, aviation lighting, and mood lighting in restaurants and public buildings. NanoMarkets expects the market for OLED-based lighting to exceed US$1 billion by 2014.

A quarterly report from DisplaySearch (Austin, TX) is also positive but reflects some of the growing pains the OLED market is beginning to experience. The OLED market saw a 3% drop in revenues to $475 million in 2006, even though shipments rose 29% to 72.1 million, according to DisplaySearch (Austin, TX). In Q4 2006, OLED shipments reached 22.2 million and revenues hit $145.3 million. Quarterly OLED shipments decreased 2% sequentially due to an 11% decrease in main displays and a 12% drop in MP3 player display shipments.

Passive matrix OLEDs continued to dominate the market with a revenue share of more than 93%. At present, there are 13 small molecule and two P-OLED producers with the small molecule segment manufacturers posting a 99% share, according to DisplaySearch.

Sub-displays and MP3 player displays continue to account for about 90% of shipments at 12.3 million and 7.9 million, respectively. Other applications, such as main displays, car audio, and auto console apps, showed strong growth but had a low volume with less than 10% market share in terms of shipments.

Among the leading OLED suppliers, Korea’s Samsung SDI topped the segment in revenues while Taiwan’s RiTdisplay Corp. grabbed the top spot in terms of OLED shipments. Segment revenues are forecasted to grow to $142.5 million in Q1 2007, mainly due to Samsung SDI’s introduction of active matrix OLEDs for cell phone main displays. Samsung SDI and Sony both started production of AMOLEDs in the first quarter.

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