OLED: The Next High-Tech Profit Opportunity
The first chapter of a colossal technological shift in the electronics industry is beginning. Displays on small televisions, iPods and smart phones are getting smaller, clearer and brighter at a rapid pace — and it will forever change the way you work and play. Simply put, it’s difficult to overstate the potential of this future multibillion-dollar market…
I’m talking about organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs. OLED displays are taking off in a big way. These next-generation displays are perfect for the mobile phone and personal media device markets because they are thinner than traditional displays and produce sharper images.
OLED — and active-matrix OLED — technology has now reached its tipping point. Very soon, we will begin to see OLEDs used in a vast array of electronics, including small televisions, digital cameras, netbooks, phones — the list goes on and on.
The rise of the OLED display is similar to that of the flat-panel television. Once a novelty, flat-panel LCD and plasma televisions quickly became the industry standard as quality and production increased while prices fell. The “transition” from bulky tube televisions to sleek flat-panel displays took only a few short years.
Try walking into your neighborhood electronics store today to browse the tube television selection. Be warned: You will be disappointed. Only a few models remain, and you can easily purchase a comparable flat-panel television for about the same price. And a flat panel can actually save you money, since it uses less power than a standard TV. Yes, it seems that the tube television is going the way of the VCR. It won’t be long before they’re only available at yard sales and antique stores.
OLED Growth: The Story Is in the Numbers
Experts from world mobile display sector leader Samsung Mobile Display are banking on OLED screen use in mobile phones to “grow significantly.” And with overall smartphone use also growing dramatically, we have before us a unique opportunity in the OLED market.
The Samsung venture expects the global smartphone market to grow to 500 million units by 2012, making up almost 30% of the industry. To put this in perspective, consumers are using 170 million smartphones right now.
Better phone technology means better displays. Samsung predicts OLED screens will be used in half of these new phones over the next five years. That’s hundreds of millions of units…
Overall, the OLED display market will grow to $6.2 billion, according to DisplaySearch forecasts. Last year, the total OLED market was worth an estimated $600,000. As you can see, we are looking at exponential growth, with the mobile phone market leading the charge.
As the technology continues to improve, we will begin to see even larger OLED displays. LG Electronics and Sony are each planning on releasing 15-inch and bigger OLED display televisions by the end of this year, according to DisplaySearch, with OLED netbooks and larger televisions showing up by the end of 2010.
Obviously, LG and Samsung are the big players in this market. But there are a couple of small-caps that have also found success developing OLED technologies. A good place to start looking would be Universal Display Corp. (NASDAQ: PANL). While the company is not yet profitable, it does have a promising patent portfolio that includes phosphorescent OLED technology.
October 1, 2009
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