As a growing number of Chinese smartphone and TV manufacturers adopt organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels, Korean OLED producers are enjoying a boom.
According to market researcher IHS Markit, major Chinese smartphone makers such as Xiaomi, Huawei, Oppo and Vivo are increasing the number of smartphones loaded with OLED panels from Samsung Display.
In particular, Huawei and Vivo are notable. Huawei ramped up shipments of smartphones with OLED displays from 2.9 million units in the first half of last year to 6.1 million units in the same period of this year. Vivo also increased OLED smartphones from 14.6 million units to 19.5 million units during the same period. Xiaomi received 1.8 million OLED panels from Samsung Display in the second quarter of this year for the first time. On October 25, Xiaomi plans to take the wraps off its 5G phone Mi Mix 3 loaded with OLED panels from Samsung Display.
There is also an uptick in the number of Chinese TV producers adopting large OLED panels. Chinese TV brands such as the Hisense and Skyworth joined the OLED TV group led by LG Electronics early this year and will launch new TV models in the second half of this year.
TCL unveiled an 8K OLED TV at the IFA 2018 in Berlin last month. In particular, Skyworth established an OLED TV module factory to increase OLED TV production from 300,000 units to one million units next year. IHS Markit forecasts that the Chinese OLED TV market would explosively grow from 170,000 units this year to 3,550,000 units in 2019.
Chinese IT companies have been adopting OLED panels because they want to abandon their corporate image of making low-priced or budget products. They are following a strategy of shifting to premium products based on technological prowess.
Currently, Korea’s LCD panel exports to the Chinese market halved due to low-priced products from Chinese display makers such as BOE. However, a rise in Chinese IT companies’ adoption of OLED panels is benefiting Korean display companies which have a competitive edge in small, medium and large OLED panels.
According to the Korea Customs Service (KCS), exports of LCDs in the first nine months of this year totaled US$21.55 million, down 62.74 percent from US$57.83 million during the same period a year before. In contrast, OLED panel exports surged 43.17% year on year from US$85.87 million to US$122.94 million.
Therefore, Samsung Display and LG Display are busy attracting Chinese customers. On October 19, Samsung Display introduced a high-definition display befitting 5G smartphones in an OLED forum in Shenzhen, China.
LG Display held OLED Partners Day in Guangzhou, China last month. In the event, the company promised to cooperate with its customers and vowed to strengthen an OLED ecosystem in China. LG Display is also said to work with Lenovo in China to develop a foldable tablet with an OLED panel.