Frost & Sullivan expects high OLED market growth - with several caveats

October 11, 2012 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Display technologies based on organic LEDs (OLEDs) gradually get an edge over competing lighting and display technologies such as LCDs, market research company Frost & Sullivan believes. According to a recent study of the company based in Mountain View (California), the global OLED market has reached a volume of almost $1.7 billion in 2011; the company expects an annual compound growth rate of 34% through 2016 which translates into a market volume of $7.39 billion in that year. Active matrix OLEDs will take the lead.

Because the OLED technology enables thinner, lighter and printable displays, it has a competitive advantage over conventional LC displays. This is owed to the fact that OLEDs are self-luminous and thus they do not require additional backlighting. As a consequence, OLEDs consume less energy and generate less energy costs - and they are five times thinner than backlit LCDs. In addition emissive displays such as OLED displays, offer very high contrast and a wide viewing angle. For this reasons, the organic displays offer better resolution and excellent readability under varying light conditions.

"New end user applications including mobile phones and smartphones, car audio systems, digital cameras, and watches drive the growth", explained Frost & Sullivan researcher Nupur Sinha. "Lower production costs will enable innovative application options in pagers, games, toys, point-of-sales devices and large-screen TVs".

Though the OLED providers have achieved significant progress, they still face concerns among potential customers about short operating life, high costs, complexity in the production process, performance and luminance. The organic substances used to manufacture OLED displays still are rather sensitive on oxygen and humidity which can potentially destroy the display if the screen is not protected. Manufacturers yet have to develop materials and processes before full-color OLED displays can be produced in high volumes at reasonable cost. The average price level is much higher than for competing technologies such as plasma displays or LCDs. According to Frost & Sullivan, the OLED market is still in its infancy; prices will only stabilize after commercialization. "In order to achieve a higher market presence, OLED manufacturers should focus on energy efficiency and higher resolution as well as better operating life", Sinha said. "But in the long run we expect that OLEDs will have a significant impact on the entire electronics industry".