LG Display virtually decided to supply Apple with plastic organic light emitting diodes (OLED) for the iPhone 8 next year and finally confirm it in a board meeting in June.
"We received a request to take part in a bid for receiving an order for small and medium-sized OLEDs from Apple," said a senior official at LG Display. “At the end of June, we will make a decision based on OLED production technology, capacity and the accompanying investment volume in an extraordinary board meeting."
It was reported that Apple, which has employed multi-vendor strategy, sounded out opportunities to receive OLEDs from LG Display by checking LG Display’s production capacity, investment, and the decision timing, while the US-based IT giant concluded a panel supply contract with Samsung Display that is dominating the small and medium-sized OLED market,
Earlier, LG Display mused over accepting Apple's demand. First of all, LG Display with no experience in mass production of small and medium-sized OLEDs was not sure about whether or not the company would be able to supply Apple with enough panels of quality desired by Apple. In particular, LG Display seriously considered the effectiveness of investment. LG Display needs additional investment to stabilize yields of small- and mid-sized OLEDs and expand production capacity. However, investment in plastic OLEDs cost LG Display two to three times more investment than investment in ordinary OLEDs. Investment in plastic OLEDs was burdensome for LG Display.
However, it is reported that LG Display judged that the company will lag behind the market unless they invest on time as displays of smartphones were rapidly shifting from LCDs to OLEDs.
Display industry watchers say that as LG Display has continued to invest in large-sized OLEDs, it will not take much time for LG Display to secure the high quality of its small and mid-sized OLEDs. LG Display also explained that Gumi E5, a 6th-generation OLED production facility with a capacity of 15,000 panels per month, will enter into full operation in the second half of this year, and will be able to supply as many OLEDs as Apple wants. One 6th-generation substrate can translate into 300 OLED panels for 5.5-inch displays for smartphones.
"The annual sales volume of the iPhone 8 with OLEDs is estimated at 40 million units," said a representative of the display industry. “Although LG Display was a few months behind Samsung, its E5's annual production volume reached 5.5 million units, bringing LG Display enough volume to supply OLEDs not only to Apple but to Chinese smartphone makers.”
LG Display continues to cooperate with Apple not only in smartphones but also in monitors, one of the latter’s core business. Apple decided to receive 27-inch ultra-high-definition (UHD) panels for its Mac Pro monitors from LG Display. It is said that the panels will be applied to realize the monitors’ curved design.