Electronic Design

OLED-TVs To Take Minor Inroads into TV Market

Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) display technology is set to make minor inroads into the television market during the next few years, iSuppli Corp. predicts. Now mainly relegated to mobile-phone displays, OLED-TV shipments will rise at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 170.6 percent, reaching 1.2 million units in 2012, up from 8,000 in 2007. Sales revenue for OLED-TVs will increase to $691 million in 2012, up from less than $1 million in 2007, iSuppli forecasts. “Interest in OLED-TVs has been stimulated by Sony Corp.’s recent announcement that it will offer a product using the technology by the end of the year,” said Vinita Jakhanwal, principal analyst for mobile displays at iSuppli. “Sony cited OLEDs’ ultra-thin form factor, higher contrast and richer colors compared to conventional LCD-TVs.” In response to Sony’s announcement, Toshiba Matsushita Display (TMD), the display arm of consumer electronics giant Matsushita, also announced accelerated availability of 20.8-inch Active-Matrix OLED (AMOLED) panels for OLED-TVs, Jakhanwal added. AMOLED technology is suitable for television in many regards, according to iSuppli. OLEDs offer fast response time, good color, high brightness, excellent viewing angles and high contrast ratios. Furthermore, OLEDs don’t need backlights, making them potentially thinner than the alternative flat-panel technologies on the market. Moreover, the resolutions needed in the television market are attainable with OLEDs. OLED-TVs in larger sizes could be sold by the 2012 timeframe. Most likely, these TVs will use polymer panels made by inkjet printing in the largest sizes. Small-molecule OLEDs made by evaporation techniques can also be used in televisions. However, there are shortcomings to OLED technology that will prevent wider adoption in the television market. The main challenges are poor manufacturing yields, limited lifetimes and pricing. Manufacturing processes for AMOLEDs now are being tested for small display sizes like 2- and 2.4-inches. Manufacturing these small-sized panels is proving to be a challenge. Producing AMOLEDs in larger sizes will be an even greater challenge. More time is needed to establish manufacturing processes for large panels, and to build equipment that can make such panels efficiently. Inkjet printers for fourth-generation substrates are still in the beta-testing phase. Thus, it is likely that the first OLED-TVs will be small and designed for novel locations like kitchens and bathrooms. The total available market for this sort of television is small. Later, as technical and manufacturing capabilities grow, OLEDs may move into more standard-sized TVs at dimensions of 20 inches or larger. This will happen near the end of the forecast, but only with continued investments and commitments from major polymer OLED suppliers. Due to high manufacturing costs, AMOLEDs are expected to be considerably more expensive than LCD panels for the foreseeable future. OLED-TV panels are expected to be twice as expensive as LCD-TV panels in 2011. Another challenge for OLEDs in the television market is the large number of competitive technologies vying for a share of sales. The television market already is flooded with options: CRT, LCD, plasma, four types of projection systems and the potential for a variety of novel technologies like Surface-Conduction Electron-Emitter Display (SED) and carbon-nanotube Field Emission Display (FED). Consumers, for the most part, do not care about particular technologies, according to iSuppli. Instead, they tend to look only at the picture quality and the price, and secondarily at the size and depth. This may make it difficult for OLEDs to gain consumer awareness. The plethora of technologies also may make it hard for OLED-TVs to attract the attention of end-product OEMs and channel vendors. Because of this, OLED will be limited to less than half of one percent of the 242.7 million unit worldwide television market in 2011, iSuppli predicts.

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