Bloomberg: OLED-making machines can't be churned out fast enough to meet all demand for a curved iPhone 8

Cannon Tokki's OLED makers are elaborate machines that face a two-year order backlog

Cannon Tokki's OLED makers are elaborate machines that face a two-year order backlog


Samsung is rumored to provide the bulk of the OLED screens for one of next year's iPhone models. Also, about 60 to 70 million of its controller boards for such screens were said to be needed in total next year, indicating how much of a demand for such an iPhone is being forecast. The first shipments are likely to start in Q2 2017, after all parts are assembled in Samsung's OLED display factory in Vietnam.

Such an OLED iPhone 8 won't be easy to produce in mass quantities (fan-made concept)

Such an OLED iPhone 8 won't be easy to produce in mass quantities (fan-made concept)

The contract between Apple and Samsung is said to be for 100 million OLED panels in total, over the course of three years, and even that is stretching Samsung's abilities to produce those, as it is also using such screens in its own phones, and other phone makers are turning to OLED as well. The bottleneck seems to stem from the ability of one Japanese suppliers to make enough specialized OLED-making machines, tips Bloomberg.

Sprawled among rice fields near the the city of Mitsuke in Niigata prefecture, the Canon Tokki Corporation (yes, an offshoot of the photo and printer company) has been perfecting laying organic light emitting diodes on glass or plastic (for flexible OLEDs) substrates for twenty years now, giving it a head start before the competition. Just one such installation costs about $80 million, and Canon Tokki only makes 10 of them per year. The backlog of orders from Samsung, LG, Japan Display, Sharp and other OLED warriors is currently two years, though Teruhisa Tsugami, the CEO, says "We are doing all we can to increase output and make that wait shorter."

The thing is that these are highly specialized machines which are tailor-made for each customer's requirements like a luxury vehicle. Just one such OLED-making installation consists of 300 feet long vacuum tube fed glass or plastic substrates on which red, green and blue pixels are deposited via evaporation of organic compounds. The margin of error when applying those millions of tiny pixels there is smaller than the size of a human red-blood cell, and Canon Tokki has a patented technology to achieve such precision by camera tracking. 

The moral of the story is that there might not be enough OLED screens of the stringent quality that would be required for the curved iPhone 8 model, which could create supply shortages next fall similar or worse than what we've been experiencing with the dual-camera iPhone 7 Plus this season, but hopefully the OLED yield issues would be resolved by then.

source: Bloomberg

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13 Comments

1. andriodfanboy1

Posts: 163; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

Lol apple bashes Samsung for there hardware and software features then eventually comes beging fir those

5. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Your name just makes your comment hypocritical.

6. Kumar123 unregistered

Lol, Samsung fanboys pretend that Samsung makes everything as it is turning out that they have to beg Japanese company to make tool for Oled display. Without these machienes samsung is nothing.

8. ph00ny

Posts: 1986; Member since: May 26, 2011

Kumar has to twist everything and anything about samsung So basically what you're saying is samsung fanboys saying they make the component is no longer true because they didn't make the tools to build the components? SMH Also weren't you the one bashing oled screens 24/7 on samsung articles?

9. drunkenjay

Posts: 1640; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

but but samsung makes bad oleds right? why would apple use such bad tech? are you saying that apple is bad?

10. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Good catch there...^ Double standards are strong in that one.

7. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2252; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

I know that Apple FANS have probably bashed Samsung for their OLED screens, but I don't know that Apple in particular has bashed Samsung for OLED displays. I also don't know where Apple is begging Samsung for "software features". And it's very common for competitors to use the same assembly lines or even use one another for parts/supplies and yet still be highly competitive to each other (or bash each other for their products being inferior to their own). The biggest example I can think of this is Ford and GM. They most recently worked on a 10-speed automatic together that will be found on cars like the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang (both vehicles that try to outdo the other in their segment). They are as big of competitors as Apple is to Samsung, yet they also have a working partnership in certain arenas.

11. Macready

Posts: 1798; Member since: Dec 08, 2014

"but I don't know that Apple in particular has bashed Samsung for OLED displays" Not specifically Samsung, but they have on a few occasions called it inferior technology because of "inaccurate colors". Which was rather ironic because even the very first S(1) could be accurately calibrated through third party software, meaning, color accuracy was just about software calibration, just like with LCD panels. In fact, at that time the high end studio monitors used by top film/photo studios were often already equipped with OLED panels.

13. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

"but I don't know that Apple in particular has bashed Samsung for OLED displays" Sounds like you missed this (http://cnet.co/1L6mVod ), where apple was arrogantly trash-talking OLEDs just over 2 years ago, as they weren't cheap enough for them. Now, they desperately want it 'cause it's now cheaper ( https://goo.gl/FozJQ0 ) and has been continuously rated as the best display for Smartphones. apple's fanatics are simply following in their divine company's foot steps of hypocrisy.

2. abdoualgeria

Posts: 928; Member since: Jul 27, 2015

I'm sure the iphone 8 will have dual-sourced display Samsung+sharp or samsung+lg

3. seret6

Posts: 279; Member since: Aug 14, 2013

Another excuse for iphone7s and 7s plus instead of iphone8? Apple should be ashamed

12. Iodine

Posts: 1470; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

Make 100 million screens for them and stop complaining. Like really Apple is just too big. Whatever they implement it's a problem to make it in enough volume. But they are trying.

4. Chuck007

Posts: 1409; Member since: Mar 02, 2014

More excuses from Apple to create hype for the product.

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