OLED is an emerging display technology that uses thin films of organic materials to make efficient, thin and high quality displays. OLED panels can made flexible, rollable and transparent. Korea's LG is at the forefront of OLED development and production - as the world's only OLED TV producer and a leading developer of flexible OLED and OLED lighting panels. LG's subsidiary LG Display is responsible for OLED R&D and panel production, while LG Electronics produces and markets OLED TVs.
LG OLED TVs
LG's 2018 OLED TV lineup include the flagship Wallpaper OLEDW8 (which attaches to the wall using magnets), the OLED-on-glass OLEDE8, the basic OLEDC8 and the entry level OLEDB8. The only TV that is shipping now is the 55" OLEDC8 which is priced at $2,500 (note: this is an affiliated link to Amazon).
As of 2018, the only company that produces produces commercial OLED TV panels is LG Display, and LG Electronics is the leading OLED TV producer - although LGD also supplies OLED panels to other companies including including Panasonic, Sony, Grundig, Philips, Metz, Loewe, Skyworth, Changhong, Haier, Konka and others.
While the basic OLED TV design uses RGB OLED sub-pixels to create each 'pixel' (what is referred to as direct emission OLED, the design used in mobile OLED displays used in Samsung's and Apple's smartphones, for example), LG Display opted for a different OLED TV design. The so-called WRGB (or WOLED-CF) architecture uses four white OLED subpixels with color filters on top (hence W+RBG). The WRGB technology (developed by Kodak and now owned by LG Display) is much easier to produce and scale-up, even though it has some technical disadvantages - and it is the technology that enabled LG to be the first company to actually produce commercial OLED TV panels.
LG Display is developing and producing OLED lighting panels, and the company is one of the leaders in OLED lighting. The company produces several panels, including flexible OLED panels and high efficiency panels. In December 2017 LG started mass production at its new 5-Gen OLED lighting fab in Gumi, Korea.
The 5-Gen line has an initial capacity of 15,000 substrates per month - about 30 times the capacity of LG's previous 2-Gen line that had a monthly capacity of 4,000 substrates. LG hopes that the new line will enable it to produces OLED lighting panels at a much lower cost (initial estimates suggested a 95% cost reduction!) which it hopes will trigger the widespread adoption of OLED lighting globally.
In August 2019 Dell's Alienware announced a flagship 55" gaming monitor based on LG Display's 120Hz 55-inch 4K (3840x2160) WRGB AMOLED display. These high-end gaming monitors are now shipping for $3,899.
The Alienware 55 has a maximum brightness of 400 nits and a 0.5 ms gray to gray response time. The monitor support AMD FreeSync variable refresh rate and it has an anti-reflective coating with 2H hardness.
DSCC says that OLED panel unit shipments will reach 1.06 billion by 2023. The growth will peak in 2020 (with a 27% unit growth and 25% revenue growth from 2019). Overall revenues for OLED panels will grow from $26.5 billion in 2018 to $46.2 billion in 2023.
DSCC says that it lowered its OLED TV forecast for 2020-2023, as LGD is delaying both its Guangzhou 8.5-Gen fab ramp up and its P10 10.5-Gen line by one year. New LCD technologies, including dual-cell LCD and miniLEDs will also hurt the growth of the OLED TV market. DSCC further reports that LG Electronics will not be able to reach its 2 million OLED TV goal in 2019 - and have asked LGD to supply it with only 2.5 million OLED TV panels in 2020 (the original plan was to supply 3.5 million panels to LGE).
IHS Markit estimates that OLED TV displays revenues will grow from $2.9 billion in 2019 to $7.5 billion in 2025. Note that IHS is looking at OLED TV display revenues and not total TV set revenues. In 2019 the market share of OLED TV displays out of the total TV display market will be 8.6% - and this will grow to 20.6% (IHS estimates the total TV display market at $36 billion in 2025).
IHS sees OLED TV panel prices starting to decrease in 2020 as OLED TV panel makers (LGD is currently the only one) start to adopt new technologies to decreases costs such as multi-model glass (MMG), ink-jet printing and QD-OLEDs.
LG Display is currently producing flexible AMOLED displays for Apple's smartwatches in its E2 4.5-Gen line in Paju. The company hasn't been able to improve its financials as LCD prices are under pressure, and following a recent managerial shuffle, it is now reported that LGD is considering shutting down its E2 line.
The E2 production capacity is around 20,000 substrates per month, but it is less economical than LG's larger OLED lines, the E5 and E6 lines which are 6-Gen lines. LG will reportedly move production from its E2 line to its larger lines.
Ireland-based OLED IP company Solas OLED has filed a lawsuit in the US (Texas) against Apple for patent infringements. The lawsuit mentions three patents (USPTO# 6072450, 7446338 and 7573068) that relate to the OLED stack, structure and circuitry (for example one of the patents relates to the formation of a backplane on a polyimide substrate).
Apple is of course not the producer of the OLED displays - but Solas says that Apple is accused of "making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing products that infringe the claims" of its patents. Apple's OLED suppliers are Samsung (for the iPhone and MacBook Pro Touch bar devices) and LG Display (for the Apple Watch display).
LG announced that it is starting to ship its 88" 8K flagship OLED Z9 TV in the US, with a price of $29,999. The OLED88Z9 is based on LG's 2nd-gen Alpha 9 intelligent processor the enables LG's ThinQ AI to offer new display algorithms and Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant.
The Signature OLED Z9 features HDMI 2.1 which enables high frame rate (HFR) support, enhanced audio return channel (eARC), variable refresh rate (VRR) and automatic low latency mode (ALLM). LG's flagship OLED also feature Dolby Atmos for immersive entertainment.
According to a new report in Korea, as the OLED industry does not require an extremely high purity hydrogen fluoride and LG has been able to quickly find a source for this gas in Korea. It already started to use the Korean material in production - and aims to source 100% of its hydrogen fluoride from Korean vendors.