Sony announced that it will invest JPY22 billion (~US$210 million) in OLED. The move is to enable production of medium to large size OLED panels starting in 2H’09. The capacity expansion will happen at its Sony Mobile Display portion of the company.
US$210 million is a lot of money. I would be happy with just 1/200 of it! But when it comes to investments in display technology, it is tiny. For instance, a single G8 TFT LCD fabrication line with a total capacity of about 60K/mo will require an investment of about US$2.5 billion. With a G8 fab we are talking about volume production of 50″-class LCD TV panels at the larger end of the spectrum. So Sony’s announcement is just a tiny step toward bringing slightly larger OLED-based displays to the market.
Let’s now talk about the “medium to large” sizes. In the display industry, large size means 10″ and larger. Medium means anywhere from 3″ to 9″. So, what the announcement means is that Sony will increase its capacity to manufacture more of what it has been doing. I would be very surprised to see volume manufacturing of OLED displays that are much bigger than 11″ this year or next.
I think the OLED industry should focus on small to medium-sized displays. There are many display manufacturers capable of producing OLEDs in the 1″ to 9″ range. Epson’s 8″ OLEDs were really exciting. LG, Samsung SDI and others were also showing in-production OLEDs in that size range. With a focus in increasing lifetimes, reducing differential aging and increasing ruggedness, OLED displays can command a high margin due to its extremely high performance and thinness today.
[tags]Sony, OLED, Display Manufacturer, Samsung SDI, LG[/tags]