OLED lighting still holds promise, says report

April 21, 2016 // By Graham Prophet
According to analysts IDTechEx, and in a report by its Head of Consulting Dr Khasha Ghaffarzadeh, OLED lighting technology faced a difficult challenge since its very beginnings, in the shape of inorganic LEDs.

The challenge was that [now regarded as conventional] LED lighting got there first and leveraged its accumulated production experience to improve its performance and to reduce its costs. This in turn created a large gap between the two technologies that shows no signs of narrowing.

The OLED lighting industry, Ghaffarzadeh says, generally had a confused commercialization strategy. The LED incumbents viewed OLED technology as a threat and as such invested only to hedge their bets. Some ignored the potential uniqueness of OLED lighting, trapping themselves in the rigid (glass-based) and/or high-power corner of the markets.

Unsurprisingly, all these led to failures and disillusionment [with OLED lighting]. Many simply gave up and now few committed players remain. Most notable amongst them are LG Chem and Konica Minolta. Both are from Asia and both see in OLED lighting a way into the immense prize that is the lighting market.

IDTechEx Research, Ghaffarzadeh says, "had anticipated these trends and developments in its market research report 'OLED Lighting Opportunities 2015-2025: Forecasts, Technologies, Players'. We had warned about the consolidation, confused commercialization strategies and also the limited short-term market prospects of OLED lighting technology. Indeed, in 2014, we forecast that the market would be smaller than $80m by 2018 and we still think that this will hold true." "We even correctly modelled and anticipated the price evolution of OLED panels. We anticipated in 2013 that the production cost will reduce to around $200/klm [kilo-lumen] by 2015. This was confirmed when LG Chem announced a very aggressive sales price of $200/klm in mid-2015. Our model enabled us to conclude that the panels were being sold at or below cost in order to stimulate the market."

What does the future hold for OLED lighting?