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Slow Progress Reaching OLED TV Set Momentum

Despite the high expectations for the entry of OLED (organic light emitting diode) displays into the television market during 2012, these TV sets will likely now only be available in very small quantities by the end of this year.

With 55" OLED TV demonstrations featured at CES in January 2012, commercial products were expected in time for the Olympics in August. But as the year progressed, the possibility of commercialization in 2012 was being questioned -- due to mass production challenges and expected high retail prices.

In September, OLED TVs were once again demonstrated at IFA in Berlin, and even at some local retailers, but were still not commercially available.

According to the latest market study by NPD DisplaySearch, OLED TV panel makers and set manufacturers are still forecasting that at least 500 OLED TVs will ship in 2012. While this is a very small quantity in comparison to the total TV market, the start of shipments will be an important breakthrough.


OLED TV manufacturers need to make a statement as the LCD TV market shifts to larger screen sizes and higher resolutions.

"If we do see OLED TVs reach the market within 2012, the shipments will be used primarily for retail demonstrations in developed regions like North America and Europe," said David Hsieh, vice president at NPD Display Search. "4K × 2K LCD TVs have has become a focus and are currently available, and OLED TV needs to demonstrate its technical superiority."

NPD DisplaySearch forecasts that OLED TV panel production will remain low, as LG and Samsung continue their efforts to increase production yields. Following in the footsteps of Korean panel manufacturers, Taiwan, China and Japan will begin AMOLED TV panel production in 2014 -- when OLED TV shipments will pass one million units.

By 2016, OLED penetration of the TV market is forecast to exceed 3 percent.

NPD highlights several key challenges including:
  • Technical challenges in manufacturing large OLED panels -- for example 55” --for TV as opposed to small (less than 5”) panels currently being made in high volumes for smartphones.
  • Manufacturing limitations of having only two Gen 8 OLED lines for TV panels, both still in pilot mode, with low manufacturing yields that keep costs high and limit the ability to meet demand.
  • High retail price, which will initially be around $10,000 for a 55” OLED TV.
  • Potential competition from 4K × 2K (ultra-high definition) LCD TVs, which are being developed by panel makers in Taiwan, China, and Japan, while their Korean counterparts have been focused on OLED TV panels.
  • Timing of market entry: Samsung and LG have developed strong positions in OLED technology and manufacturing capacity, but it is not clear if other panel makers can catch up to them.

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