Apple, Samsung hunt elusive microLED

An article written by Junko Yoshida for EETIMES – The Apple Watch Series 4 surprised observers at Apple’s annual iPhone event last week by stealing the show from the latest iPhone generation. With rounded corners, a larger display, and built-in EKG scanner, the new Apple watch was billed in some media reports as “the most sought-after gadget in the aftermath of Apple’s fall hardware refresh.”

Patrick Moorhead, founder and president of Moor Insights & Strategy, said, “With Watch Series 4, Apple continued its differentiated approach of creating a ‘computer on the wrist’ that runs real apps, not just applets.” He called the Series 4’s 30% bigger viewable image area as key to new uses. He added that users might prefer to “rely more on their Watch than their iPhones.”
Meanwhile display technology watchers are watching the Watch for an entirely different reason. They want to know when Apple will be ready to incorporate in the Watch screen microLED instead of OLED. If Apple pulls that off, the Cupertino giant, which has never been a display provider, would be nailing a technology nobody else in the world has yet mastered.

To be clear, the Watch Series 4 doesn’t do microLED.

There is “no surprise” there, Eric Virey, senior market and technology analyst at Yole Développement told us. “We know that Apple is still very active and committed to its microLED display development, but even if they were close to deliver the ‘perfect display’ they need for their products, it will still take time to set up the supply chain, ramp manufacturing and qualify the displays.”

Virey predicted last year that microLED could arrive in the wearable device market, such as Apple Watch, in late 2019. When we caught up with him last week, he acknowledged pushing back his prediction for the arrival of high-volume consumer microLED products by at least two years — to 2021.

What changed? Where is Apple today with its microLED technology? Who else in the industry has joined the microLED rush? And what’s the big delay in the microLED rollout?

We sat down with Virey and asked about what now appears to be an elusive breakthrough to microLED… Full article