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Apple’s Foray Into AMOLEDs: “Not Yet”

Gartner and Gizmodo took opposites sides of the same story about the Apple iPhone and AMOLED displays and they both got it wrong. How could this be, from two widely quoted and respected organizations?

Ken Dulaney of Gartner reportedly said the second generation iPhone with 3G access will have an OLED display instead of the current LCD display and Apple has ordered 10M units. Pretty exciting for the OLED guys! Then Gizmodo (I assume Brian Lam, the editor) writes “Where did Ken get this wacky idea? ‘Rumors’ overheard in Asia. Here’s our (Gizmodo’s) take on it.”

  • “OLED in a display the size of an iPhone is expensive. EXPENSIVE.”
  • “OLED sucks under sunlight right now. The iPhone is awesome under sunlight. They’re not going to trade in for a crappier technology.”
  • “Apple doesn’t use unproven technology. Until lots of phones have OLED, count on Apple sticking with cheaper (and very usable) LCDs.”

Is there any truth here? I don’t believe so.

First, the only company with the capability to produce AMOLEDs in volume is Samsung SDI, and by our calculation they can only make approximately 4M 3.5” displays/year with the current capacity at 100% yields. Even if they double the capacity, they could not meet the annual volume.

Second, Apple has always operated at the high end of the display market, and their current 3.5” LTPS display with the touch capability is close to 3X what the average 3.5” display would cost. Moreover, the touch component cost is coming way down. So there is room for a more expensive display and it could generate renewed interest in the product.

Third, I wonder if Gizmodo has ever seen any of the Samsung SDI demos comparing the AMOLED with a comparable TFT LCD. The AMOLEDs actually outperform the TFT LCDs if the OLED has the right circular polarizer and the proper CR/Color Gamut/Luminance design.

Fourth, Apple is actually working with AMOLED manufacturers to qualify the technology, and since the display is already in products from Nokia, Sony Samsung, LG, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba, Sharp and iRiver, it is beyond the label of unproven.

Since Apple is very quiet about their plans, one can only speculate about if and when an AMOLED will be part of their product mix. Saying anything seems to draw attention, but saying something that is accurate is much more difficult. What we can say is that Apple and Samsung SDI engineers are working together and sharing information, so Ken may be correct but a little early, but Brian needs to go back and turn off his iPod.


  • http://itspot.wordpress.com/2008/04/02/the-apple-rumor-that-just-wont-die/ The Apple rumor that just won’t die « IT Spot

    [...] was last week. Now DisplaySearch is weighing in. Analyst Barry Young, who follows the AMOLED industry, says both are wrong–kind [...]

  • http://www.iphoneclub.nl/5101/iphone-met-oled-scherm-nog-even-geduld/ ‘iPhone met OLED-scherm: nog even geduld’ » Nieuws » iPhoneclub.nl

    [...] Meer info: DisplaySearch Blog [...]

  • Steve

    Thanks Barry. I totally agree . NOT YET
    Have you seen this article …

    TAIPEI (MarketWatch) — Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. , the world’s largest contract electronics maker, plans to ship at least 10 million third-generation iPhones for Apple Inc. (AAPL:Apple Inc

    11:38am 04/03/2008



  • http://techboy.zetox.net/04/apple-rumor/ TechBoy’s blog» Blog Archive » Apple rumor…

    [...] was last week. Now DisplaySearch is weighing in. Analyst Barry Young, who follows the AMOLED industry, says both are wrong–kind [...]