A fatal blow for the microLED?

By pulling the plug on its supply agreement with Osram, Apple’s actions have sent shock waves through the fledgling microLED industry. – An article written by Richard Stevenson for, in collaboration with Eric Virey from Yole Group.

The nascent microLED industry has been plunged into jeopardy, following Apple’s decision to terminate its supply deal with ams Osram. Apple’s action, which caused Osram share price to plummet by 40 percent, has led this chipmaker to consider selling its second fab in Malaysia, built solely for the production of microLEDs for Apple Smartwatches.

According to Eric Virey, a Principal Analyst from Yole Group, Apple’s move has widespread implications, including delivering a massive and devastating blow to the microLED industry.

Virey points out that Apple has played a major role within this space for many years, having created the microLED industry through the acquisition of start-up Luxvue in 2014. “From that moment, dozens of startups and most OEM and display makers started investing in the technology.”

However, Virey believes that there is still a possibility that Apple has not inflicted a fatal blow to the microLED industry.

“If Apple had pulled the plug two or three years ago, we are confident this would have been a death sentence for the industry. However, the situation is different now: we consider that with sizable investments across all players and continents, the microLED industry has now gained enough momentum to continue on its own, although on a different path, with an immediate focus on applications where microLEDs can offer highly differentiating performance and functionalities.”

Promising opportunities for the microLED exist in the automotive industry, in augmented reality, and a variety of display technologies, according to Virey.

Despite ditching its partnership with Osram, Virey does not expect Apple to turn its back on the microLED: “We believe the company is still very interested in the technology, but will no longer try to develop its own technology and supply chain.”

Instead, Virey expects Apple to continue evaluating technologies and products developed externally, and to potentially adopt microLED displays developed by suppliers in some of its products, if and when it makes sense for them.

For Virey, Apple’s recent decision did not come as a great shock, as he viewed the project as challenging and risky…

Read the full article HERE.