The global rise of flexible and foldable displays: an IDTechEx view

February 06, 2019 // By Julien Happich
Titled “OLED Display Forecasts and Technologies 2019-2029: The Global Rise of Flexible and Foldable Displays”, IDTechEx Research’s latest report includes technology analysis and detailed forecasts by market segment and display type, with additional assessment of Quantum Dot Displays, E-Paper Displays and other Flexible Displays.

The report provides a comprehensive assessment of OLED display technologies and markets in addition to the progress with other emerging display technologies including quantum dots and electrophoretic displays.
In 2018, the OLED industry was worth $25.5Bn and is expected to rise to $30.3Bn in 2019, according to the market research firm. Over $15Bn has been invested in the OLED display industry from 2016 to 2018 with panel makers mainly based in China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan. The investment is coming from the need to differentiate products with better screens and new form factors, with plastic based OLEDs becoming the norm (in rigid format) leading to truly flexible OLED displays - foldable displays being the first commercial example of that, expected in 2019.

OLEDs for cellphones dominate the OLED sector, comprising of 81% of the market revenue in 2018. The second largest sector are OLED TVs which are 16% of the total market by revenue in 2018. Despite being 16% of the revenue, OLED TVs are 40% of the market by area of display. Therein is the challenge for larger area displays - cellphones have smaller displays and can command premium margins, but larger devices (including tablets) typically have lower price points and lower margins but need larger, more expensive screens (albeit with lower resolution). The third largest OLED application is wearables, which is 2% of the total OLED display market value and 0.4% by area in 2018.

In separate chapters, the report assesses each of the main layers of OLED displays including substrates, thin film transistors (TFTs), materials, barrier layers, transparent conductive film and manufacturing processes. Options for each are assessed and compared, identifying which are being used by which application. Key players and their progress are identified.
The technology assessment also includes matching the technology against the market need. For example, the impact of the Rec.2020 digital standard for next generation ultra HD displays, to the roadmap from glass based


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