With the introduction of the Apple Watch, the global smart watch panel market has entered a boom period, which allows LG Display to be the dominant player in the market with an overwhelming market share.
According to market research firm DisplaySearch on May 11, LG Display turned over US$186 million in the global smart watch panel market during the first quarter of this year.
The size of the market was estimated at US$240 million in the period, and LG Display accounted for 90.9 percent of the market. Virtually, there is no rival company, considering that Samsung Display, which was in the runner-up position with a 3.1 percent share, posted US$63 million, followed by Japan Display at US$48 billion (2.4 percent) and Futaba US$37 billion (1.8 percent).
In terms of shipments, the top-ranked company comprised 66.8 percent of the total with 8 million units. Compared to 1.1 million units in Q4 2014, the number in Q1 2015 is a seven-fold increase from the previous quarter. The figure is much bigger than 1.48 million units recorded by Japan Display in the runner-up spot (12.4 percent), 1.12 million units by Futaba in third place (9.4 percent), and 900,000 units by Sharp in the fourth spot (7.5 percent).
Smart watches are required to be thin and have low battery consumption, since they are worn on the wrist. Unlike smartphones where LCD panels are used, plastic-based OLED panels are widely utilized in smart watches, as various kinds of designs are needed.
In particular, LG Display has technology unparalleled in the smart watch panel area, as shown by its success in developing circular OLED panels for the first time. The Korean firm is exclusively supplying plastic OLED panels to the Apple Watch, which was released in April. Those panels made by LG Display are also reportedly used in the LG Watch Urbane, which was introduced to the market in March.
Currently, LG Display and Samsung Display are the two companies in the world capable of producing plastic OLED screens for smart watches. Thus, Samsung Display seems to be the only one with the potential to curb LG Display's dominance. The second-largest smart watch panel maker, equipped with a system to mass-produce plastic OLED panels, will also reportedly supply the panels to the following model of the Apple Watch, along with LG Display.