Samsung spinoff targets next big thing in displays: AMOLEDs

March 05, 2012 // By Julien Happich
While the spinoff by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. of its liquid crystal display operations undoubtedly will boost the short-term competitiveness of the business, the long-term benefit may be domination of the next wave in display technology: the active matrix organic light emitting diode (AMOLED), according to the IHS iSuppli Display Materials & Systems Service at information and analytics provider IHS.

Samsung said it will spin off its LCD business into a new company called Samsung Display Co. on April 1. The next move for Samsung Display Co. may be a merger with Samsung Mobile Display Co Ltd., a joint venture between Samsung Electronics and Samsung SDI Co. that makes both LCD and AMOLED displays.

“Samsung's LCD division is the world’s second-largest LCD panel maker in terms of unit shipments, while Samsung Mobile Display is the top supplier of AMOLED displays,” observed Sweta Dash, the senior director for liquid crystal displays at IHS. “A merger would allow the new company to combine its OLED expertise with internal prodigious experience and market influence in the LCD segment. Because of its myriad advantages, OLED represents the future of display technology, representing a huge growth opportunity in the coming years.”

Samsung Electronics in 2011 commanded a 22.9 percent share of the global large-sized LCD shipments, second only to LG Display, with a 25.8 percent share. However, Samsung Mobile Display dominated the AMOLED space, with an 85 percent share, compared to 15 percent for LG Display. While the AMOLED market is tiny compared to the massive LCD segment, the new technology holds the potential for much-faster growth given its emerging status compared to the mature LCD segment. Global AMOLED shipments are set to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 29 percent from 2011 to 2015, compared to 5.8 percent for LCDs.

AMOLED the beautiful

Compared to LCDs, AMOLEDs offer wider viewing angles, faster response times and lower power consumption. They also eschew the need for backlights, not only further reducing power consumption, but allowing for thinner, more attractive displays. Finally, OLEDs are compatible with flexible substrates, which will enable innovative new form factors that are not possible with LCDs. AMOLEDs already have been used in large volumes in high-end Android smartphones. Furthermore, both Samsung and rival LG demonstrated 55-inch AMOLED TV prototypes at