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LG Admits to Missing the Mega Trend Shift to OLED and will Move Quickly to Gain Apple's Business

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LG Display Co. will jack up investment on next-generation mobile screens as top customer Apple Inc. prepares to adopt ultra-thin, power-saving screens for iPhones as early as 2017.


Business conditions this year are worsening as iPhone sales slow and competition with Chinese panel suppliers intensifies. That's why the world's largest maker of liquid-crystal displays needs to shift investment to screens powered by organic light-emitting diodes (or OLEDs) as its rivals begin to make headway in the nascent market, Chief Executive Officer Han Sang Beom said.


The Bloomberg report further noted that "Apple is said to be in exclusive talks for rival Samsung Display Co. to supply OLED panels as early as next year as we reported on back in April. We further noted in April that LG was racing to become Apple's number two OLED display source."


The report pointed out that "Han concedes his company's a relative latecomer to the scene and while the market remains small because of the technology's cost, OLEDs will go mainstream in a matter of years. The company is also developing foldable displays, Han said without outlining the size or timing for future investments in screens."


This is an interesting development that could come in handy for Apple should Samsung's venture into foldable displays suddenly become popular. Samsung continues to develop the foldable smartphone and tablet concept as noted in our recent patent reports here and here.


The Bloomberg report lastly noted that LG's CEO Han said at a recent company event that "It's true that we were late in OLED investment for smaller electronics devices compared to that of televisions. It's undeniable that flexible OLEDs are now the mega-trend in the mobile segment and we will have to embrace that."


In April Patently Apple posted a report titled "LG Racing to become Apple's Number Two OLED Display Source."   


In a Korean report this morning, LG's CEO noted that "This year, next year and the year 2018 will be a crucial timeline for us in setting up a clear direction for future growth."  


His comments come as LG Display is facing growing demand from its top customers that include Apple Inc. which plans to apply plastic OLED screens for iPhones, possibly next year.  


Plastic OLED displays refer to unbreakable and flexible screens that defy the conventional flat and squared forms of mobile devices. Apple is reportedly developing foldable devices for its next-generation iPhones.



The company is building a new manufacturing line called P10 at its Paju cluster for production of large-sized OLED panels and flexible OLEDs for smartphones. The production line, which costs 10 trillion won, is expected to start operating within the first half of 2018.   


The shift in the world market to OLED mobile displays imposes a huge burden on LG, as it still heavily relies on LCDs. Sales generated by OLEDs make up less than 10 percent of its total sales, and the rest is mostly made up by LCDs, said Han.



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