Korean TV panel makers are in the process of adjusting their priorities due to difficulties in commercializing AMOLED TV as well as the fact that the outlook for 4K UHD (ultra-high definition) TV is becoming more promising, according to an analyst from DisplaySearch market tracking firm. As a result of changes, in 2013 panel makers will mass produce 4K LCD panels for premium UHDTVs, whereas in 2014 they will start mass production of 4K AMOLED panels.
Since the beginning of 2012, when both Samsung and LG Display demonstrated 55” AMOLED TV at CES, both have been claiming they will mass-produce large size AMOLED TVs panel within the year. However the commercialization plan has been delayed repeatedly. At the same time, aggressive pricing of some large size LCD TV on Black Friday and the resulting sales shows that, for many end users, a larger and cheaper LCD TV is more attractive than a high-end, slim, and fancy OLED TV. The emphasis on AMOLED TV has been reduced, and the new focus is on the ultra high-definition, according to David Hsieh, vice president of Greater China Market for DisplaySearch.
A fundamental challenge for AMOLED TV remains manufacturing yield. Pilot production indicates that 55” AMOLED TV panel straight yield (without repair) is in single digits due to instability in the large backplanes (using LTPS or oxide TFT). Total yield (after repair) is estimated to be less than 30%. Finally, frit encapsulation is too fragile for large area TV, and is resulting in reduced panel life.
Because of the high manufacturing costs, 55” AMOLED TV set prices are expected to be in the $10K range, a very high price compared to comparable LCD TVs. Also, due to the lifespan and reliability issues, after service costs are not predictable. There may be a need for a large advertising and education campaign to highlight AMOLED’s advantages compared to LCD TV.
After IFA 2012, Korean panel makers lost some confidence in AMOLED, and began to feel that they could not justify a further investment into capacity expansion for AMOLED. At the same time, the visual quality of 4K-class resolutions (3840*2160, 4096*2160, etc.) became clearer to consumers. For panel makers, 4K LCD TV seems to be easier to manufacture than 4K AMOLED TV, which is why in 2013 they will manufacture 4K panels using conventional LCD technology, whereas AMOLED 4K panels will be produced in mass quantities only in 2014.