As an increase in demand for high-definition and high-resolution televisions is boosting the supply of large organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels, materials and equipment markets for OLED panels are expected to grow rapidly.
According to Seoul-based market research institute UBI Research, on August 20 the market for global active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) panels is projected to reach 10 trillion won (US$8.9 billion) in revenues in 2013. And smartphone panels are expected to account for 73% of the entire panel market.
But it is predicted that the importance of smartphone panels will gradually decline as phablets (a smartphone with a screen between 5.0 and 6.9 inches in size) and TV panels are forecast to represent an increased share in the market in 2014. It is estimated that phablet panels, which are projected to make up 26% this year, will capture 48% of panel markets, and TV panels with 9%. With those market shares increasing, smartphone panels are expected to comprise only 43%.
In 2017 smartphone display panels are projected to constitute merely 22% of the market, while phablet and TV panels are expected to grow 28% and 30% respectively. Therefore the market share of large panels is estimated to exceed 50%.
Due to the market growth of big OLED displays, the OLED market is likely to grow rapidly. It is projected to reach US$15.217 billion in revenues in 2014 and US$56.649 billion in 2017. It indicates that large panels are dominating the market, and forecast to grow fast. Accordingly, materials and equipment markets for OLED panels are predicted to grow in tandem.
Thanks to increasing demand for larger OLED TV panels, the OLED lighting materials market is projected to expand fast. According to DisplaySearch, a leading global market research and consulting firm, the global OLED market is projected to enjoy about 67% growth each year until 2017.
The market for OLED materials used for emissive and conductive layers will reach US$53 million in revenues in 2013, and may reach US$3.4 billion in 2017.
Currently, OLED materials revenues almost entirely come from sales of materials for mobile phones. And yet, as the OLED TV market share is increasing rapidly, it appears that OLED TVs will represent most of the OLED materials market growth.
In 2014, it is predicted that big OLED TV panels will make up just 10% of all the OLED panel market in shipments, but 17% in the OLED materials industry. Starting in 2016, OLED materials market growth will derive from big display sales as the materials market for mobile phones will diminish in revenues.
Jimmy Kim, a senior fellow at DisplaySearch, said, "Owing to big OLED TV panels, the OLED display market will expand rapidly until 2017. It will lead to rapid growth of the OLED materials market."
As OLED displays that are mainly used in smartphones are showing signs of their use in TVs and tablet PCs as well, the increased utilization of OLED displays are likely to guide the growth of equipment markets for OLED panels.
What is noticeable is that Samsung Electronics is giving consumers 34% off the price of curved 55" full-HD OLED TVs in order to make its large OLED TV panels more popular. As large OLED panels gain popularity, the big OLED panel market is expected to grow faster. As a result, a demand for equipment that is used for mass-producing OLED displays in order to additionally reduce the cost is expected to increase greatly.
Amid predictions that production yield can go up fast owing to the technological improvement of mass-producing OLED displays, it appears that big OLED panels that are now manufactured in small quantities in a pilot line are expected to be mass-produced earlier than expected.
It is highly probable that the mass-production of OLED panels, which have been mainly produced by Korean companies such as Samsung and LG Display, will be made by firms in Chinese-speaking countries, including Chinese panel producer BOE Display and Taiwanese AU Optronics (AOU). Hence, the prospects for companies engaged in equipment business look rosy.
An industry source said, "As competition intensifies among display makers in a bid to gain competitive advantages in the field of big and flexible OLED panels, the demand for OLED display manufacturing equipment is more likely to increase quickly. Starting next year, the increased demand will be shown thorough improved performance.”