Phones using OLED display panels
are expected to hit 217 million panels this year, according to DisplaySearch, which is much more than the 134 million pieces last year, and already putting a strain on capacities. Supply/demand ratio is forecast to reach just 1% towards the end of the year, meaning any unfortunate event can throw a number of plans off the rails. As per Charles Annis, vice president of manufacturing analsysis at DisplaySearch:
Samsung Display still produces the vast majority of commercially available AMOLEDs, and these are mainly used in smartphones. With the recent release of the Galaxy S4 with a 5-inch Full HD AMOLED display, Samsung will need to run its AMOLED fabs at maximum capacity to keep up with expected high demand.
As the supply/demand ratio is expected to tighten dramatically, Samsung is moving to significantly extend capacity at its A2 5.5G fab from 2013-2014. Additionally, the company may also accelerate its plans for A3, another new AMOLED production line.
Rapid growth of smartphones and tablets, in conjunction with the continued shift towards larger average TV sizes, are driving a recovery of the FPD industry. In fourth-quarter 2012, average operating margins for flat panel display makers turned positive for the first time since third-quarter 2010, and this trend is forecast to continue. Additionally, the outlook for fab utilization, equipment spending and technology upgrades is improving in 2013 and potentially will continue into 2014.