LG Display will supply flexible organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) to Sony. They broadened the scope of cooperation from large OLED TVs to smartphones.
According to the display industry on January 28, LG Display will reportedly supply flexible OLEDs to Sony. "We know that Sony is working with flexible OLEDs," said an official in the display familiar with LG Display's internal situations.
Last year, Sony made big profits by making a big TV model with a large OLED panel from LG Display. Sony showed a strong presence in the premium market, which improved earnings. In the first half of 2017, its net profit ran to 211.7 billion yen, the highest in 10 years. Sony became more confident to such an extent that the company raised its annual TV sales target to 12.5 million units from 12 million units.
What about Sony smartphones? Sony’s market share in the global smartphone market is not high and remaining at a single digit, but ranks second to Apple in Japan. In the first half of last year, Sony enjoyed a market share of 14.9%, already beating Samsung Electronics (8.2%), Sharp (7.3%) and Fujitsu (8.9%).
Sony, as in the TV industry, has been quite struggling in the smartphones industry. However, smartphones are recognized as a necessity in both advanced markets and growth markets. In order to embody user experience (UX) that Sony pursues and integrate various services, Sony has to maintain its smartphone business. This is the reason why Sony has not given up its smartphone business despite sluggish sales and deficits.
On LG Display’s part, Sony is a fetching partner which can help LG Display attract new customers. Although there are Chinese smartphone companies, but situations are different in advanced markets. It is essential for LG Display to acquire customers as the company will begin mass production of flexible OLEDs at 15,000 sheets per month from the third quarter in Paju E6 production facilities following those at Gumi E5. LG Display cannot depend on big buyers such as Apple only.
"Already Sony is asking around in order to secure OLED engineers," an industry representative said. "Sony is expected to implant its success factors in the TV business in its smartphone business and develop products such as foldable phones."