Next Generation iPad: OLED

No doubt Apple is working on the next-generation iPad already. Digitimes is reporting a rumor that Apple will be using an OLED panel instead of the excellent IPS LCD panel currently in the iPad. Naturally the second generation iPad will be launching some time in 2011. Probably in April.

Samsung is in the lead with OLED displays used for smartphone applications. In fact any smartphone with an OLED display sporting an 800×480 “resolution” is made by Samsung Mobile Displays using the PenTile Matrix system (read Nexus One PenTile Matrix OLED Display). Although the 1024×768 pixel format in the current iPad would not likely be a problem, scaling the size up to 9.7 inches will certainly make it very expensive and much more expensive than any LCD. Digitimes Research senior analyst Mingchi Kuo pegs the price of the current 9.7-inch IPS LCD at US$60-70. The equivalent OLED panel, if manufactured, would cost about US$500.

LG Display (LGD), the current and only LCD supplier to the iPad, has a lot of OLED IPs it can tap into thanks to a deal with Eastman Kodak and LG that was consummated last year (read Kodak Sells OLED Business to LG). AU Optronics (AUO) is also planning to restart its OLED business next year.

I’m not buying the rumor. OLED panel prices increase exponentially as diagonal sizes increase. Consider the largest OLED TV that is commercially available: LG’s 15-inch OLED TV is about US$2000. I think Apple wants to continue offering a $499 entry price to the iPad. According to a sales person at a local Apple Store the $499 iPad is by far the most popular.