Samsung, LG ignite war over OLED leadership by investing massively

LG Display and Samsung Display will make invest about 13 trillion won (US$11.6 billion) in flexible OLEDs this year alone to win new orders for the iPhone from Apple. Analysis says that their investment volume combined is a record high and the two global panel giants began a “do or die” fight over the flexible OLED leadership.

According to the OLED industry on October 30, Samsung Display accounting for 95% of the world small and mid-sized OLED market will make additional investment of 5 trillion won (US$4.47 billion) in OLEDs in the fourth quarter of this year alone.

As Samsung Display invested about 5.9 trillion won (in facilities from the beginning of this year to the third quarter of this year, the additional investment will raise Samsung’s total investment in OLEDs of this year to 10.9 trillion won (US$9.7 billion). The figure is Samsung Display’s record high annual investment in OLEDs. In the case of OLEDs, Samsung Display focuses on small and medium-sized OLEDs such as those for smartphones, tablets and notebooks. In the big panels, the company has no plan to invest in OLEDs since it LCDs such as quantum dot displays.

LG Display is also making full-scale investment in flexible OLEDs this year. This year, LG Display’s size of facility investment is about 4.5 trillion won, the half of which is going into flexible OLEDs. Massive investment amounting to about one trillion won in E5 Line in Gumi begun last year reached the stage to move in equipment so the line will begin to operate in the first half of next year.

Samsung LGignite Yole

The company is also enforcing investment in the POLED Line (E6) in its Paju factory for which the company mapped out a two trillion won investment in July. Most of the investment in E6 will be made next and in 2018 when the factory will begin to roll out panels. The company will execute the investment of some of ten trillion won to be invested in P10 Line, the world’s largest OLED panel factory under construction in Paju this year. Accordingly, LG Display’s investment in flexible OLEDs surpassed two trillion won this year.

The two companies’ investments in flexible OLEDs combined of this year stand at about 13 trillion won, a record high. Samsung Display dominating the small and mid-sized OLED market and LG Display in pursuit of Samsung Display have decided to concentrate their investments on flexible OLEDs as they are taking into account Apple’s new orders for the next iPhone. Apple is planning to adopt flexible OLEDs beginning from iPhone 8 that will hit shelves in the second half of next year apart from retina LCD displays. In particular, the display industry forecasts that beginning in 2018, OLED panels will exceed the half of total panels for the iPhone.

The iPhone is the second best selling smartphone model in the world after Samsung’s Galaxy series as it sells about 200 million units a year. Even if the half of all iPhone units use OLED panels, Apple will need to order about 100 million OLED panels a year. It is said that this reason will allow Samsung Display to have all of orders for OLEDs for the iPhone 8 to itself. This is why Samsung Display will expand the production capacity of its A3 Line to 70,000 units a month by the end of the first half of next year from 15,000 units a month now. 70,000 units a month equal about 170 million 5.5-inch panels a year.

LG Display will be able to mass-produce flexible OLEDs in the first half of next year when E5 Line in Gumi will enter its operation phase. It is said that at the moment, LG Display is having a tug of war over the supply of OLED panels from E5 Line to the iPhone 5 with Apple.