Consumers are turned on by the bright, clear pictures produced by Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) televisions?but they are tuning out to the small sizes and prohibitively high prices of these sets, according to iSupply.
Because of this, shipments of OLED panels for televisions will account for only a tiny portion of the global TV market during the next six years, despite a nearly 200 times increase in Active-Matrix OLED (AM-OLED) panel revenue during the same period, an iSuppli analysis claims.
The research firm predicts that global revenue from shipments of OLED panels for use in televisions will surge to $1.8 billion in 2015, up from $10 million in 2009. This will make television the biggest revenue-generating application for OLED panels in 2015, surpassing the much higher-volume market of main displays for cell phones. The large sizes of televisions relative to the small displays on cell phones means the pricing for their OLED displays is dramatically higher, boosting revenue.
However, even with this growth, unit shipments of OLED panels for televisions will amount to just 850,000 units in 2013 and only 4.7 million units in 2015, up from 25,000 in 2009. This represents a tiny number of shipments compared to the LCD-TV panel market, which is set to reach 232.6 million units in 2013.
"Ever since Sony unveiled an 11-inch Active Matrix (AM) OLED television in late 2007, consumers and the display industry have been buzzing about its stunning images," said Vinita Jakhanwal, principal analyst, small/medium displays, for iSuppli. "But average pricing for an 11-inch AM-OLED television is presently about $2,500, compared to $704 for a 42- to 44-inch LCD television. Due to manufacturing challenges and limited production, OLED-TVs will remain small in size and high in price in the coming years, consigning them to small niche of the global television market at least through 2015."
LG Display will be launching a 15-inch AM-OLED TV for the Korean market by Christmas this year. As the demonstrations of this television proved, AM-OLED technology offers several advantages compared to LCDs.
Beyond the obvious attribute of superior image quality, AM-OLEDs have a very slim form factor. They also consume much less power than LCDs, making them attractive to environmentally conscious consumers.
The major barriers for the OLED-TV market include limited manufacturing, technological and quality challenges and the increasing competitiveness of LCDs.
"The AM-OLED market presently has few suppliers," Jakhanwal said. "This precludes competition that could drive prices down and volume up."
There currently is no investment in fabs capable of producing larger AM-OLED panels that can compete directly with the most popular LCD-TV sizes. Because of this, it is unknown whether high-volume manufacturing of large-sized AM-OLED panels can generate yields that are competitive with other display technologies. OLED panels are based on a current-driven backplane technology that offers poor stability and a lack of uniformity.
Lifetime issues are also a concern, with large-sized AM-OLED TV sets? operational life constrained by the OLED material performance and differential aging of the various materials in the display.
AM-OLEDs also suffer from "image sticking," a phenomenon that leaves an artifact on a screen after a static image is displayed too long.
On the competitive front, LCD-TVs are improving their refresh rates, moving from 120Hz to 180Hz and 240Hz. They also are using LED backlights to improve color performance. Furthermore, LCDs are getting thinner, reducing a key advantage of OLEDs. Finally, TFT-LCD prices are dropping quickly, expanding their cost edge over OLEDs.