According to the latest Quarterly Worldwide FPD Shipment and Forecast Report, AMOLED revenues are expected to pass $11.3B in 2013, up from $6.9B in 2012. This is an important milestone in the growth of AMOLED production. However, as long as the AMOLED business model remains limited to a single source (Samsung Display) and customer (Samsung Mobile), its future growth is questionable. Without large scale investments and participation by several panel makers, it’s hard to conclude that OLED can be a mainstream display technology that could replace TFT LCD.
The big revenue growth in AMOLED primarily comes from mobile phones, especially the latest Samsung Galaxy S 4, which uses a 5” 1920×1080 (440 ppi) AMOLED panel, with an average selling price of over $65, including integrated (on-cell) touch. We forecast that over 52M 5” AMOLED smart phone panels will be shipped in 2013, accounting for over $3.2B in revenues. The revenue growth of AMOLED in 2013 is linked to the higher prices for AMOLED panels compared to other mobile phone panels like a-Si TFT LCD or LTPS.
As Samsung Mobile continues to focus on the AMOLED as not only a display component but an important element of its brand, shipment growth of the Galaxy series will lead to growth in AMOLED revenue. Samsung Mobile is widely adapting the AMOLED for its products, including Galaxy Phone, Galaxy Note and Galaxy Player. In 2013, Samsung intends to introduce three new products – Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy New Player. The Galaxy S4 and Galaxy New Player will definitely use AMOLED panels. Of course, high resolution is a challenge for AMOLED, and Samsung has considered switching to LTPS TFT LCD for the S4 and Note 3. However, as we discussed previously, Samsung has been able to increase the effective resolution of AMOLED. We also expect the Note 3 will continue to adopt AMOLED.
In addition, we forecast that there will be a limited amount of the 55” FHD AMOLED TV panels shipped in 2013, which will also contribute to the AMOLED revenues. With AMOLED revenues passing $10B, AMOLED has become a big industry, but – unlike TFT LCD – this field is absolutely dominated by Samsung. For other panel makers, the entry barrier for AMOLED is not only technology, but also revenues and thus ability to invest.