In late December 2019 Patently Apple posted a report titled "Rumor Claims that China's BOE could Supply Apple with up to 45 Million OLED Displays in 2021." The emphasis of the report was to confirm that it will be 2021 where BOE would become Apple's second OLED supplier behind Samsung. In late January Patently Apple posted another report titled "While BOE will enter Apple's OLED Supply Chain in 2020, its Big Push will begin in 2021."
Today it's being reported in Korea that "It has been confirmed that BOE, the biggest display maker in China, has started making investment in plant and equipment in order to supply OLEDs to Apple."
The Korean report further noted that BOE recently decided to invest in OLED module lines exclusively for Apple. It is heard that BOE is planning to construct 10 new module lines at its B11 OLED plant located in Sichuan.
A module line is where many components are assembled so that a display panel can be attached to finished products such as smartphone. It is expected that BOE will have an entire assembly line from panel to module as it has Gen 6 flexible OLED fab at B11 plant.
It will be able to supply OLEDs once it passes Apple’s strict evaluation. The reason why BOE’s recent investment is still drawing interests is because its investment is a follow-up decision from its recent communication with Apple.
Multiple representatives from the industry who are familiar with BOE’s situation stated that they heard that Apple recently asked BOE to make necessary preparations regarding supply of OLEDs.
There is now a greater chance for BOE to become one of Apple’s OLED supplier. Apple currently has high level of dependence on Samsung Display. Samsung Display was the only OLED supplier for iPhone X and it also owns most of supplies of OLEDs for iPhone 11 series. As a result, it is urgent for Apple to diversify its OLED suppliers.
BOE needs to raise the level of importance of OLED within its entire businesses. Yet with that being said, BOE has become the world’s leading display maker by surpassing Samsung and they've been successfully supplying Huawei with OLED displays which are top notch.
Emergence of BOE is definitely a bad news for Samsung Display and LG Display as they may see their supplies get reduced and have to reduce their unit costs if BOE joins them as one of Apple’s OLED suppliers.
While there's no news of a contract with Apple, it's highly unlikely that BOE would make such a major investment without some kind of commitment from Apple.