updated 09:40 am EDT, Thu July 8, 2010
iSuppli says AMOLED still behind LCD by 2014
Tight supplies of AMOLED screens are having an impact on Android that could potentially go on for years to come, iSuppli said in a new estimate. Interest in Android phones with such displays, like the Droid Incredible and Nexus One, has put a squeeze on supply that has triggered delays both for the phones and other products. The situation has been made worse as Samsung, the dominant AMOLED supplier, can hoard AMOLEDs for phones like the Galaxy S at the expense of everyone else.
The situation is unlikely to improve significantly even over the next four years, according to the analysts. LG also makes AMOLEDs but hasn't stepped up production; Samsung won't have its next-generation plants ready until late 2011. AU Optronics and TPO Display in Taiwan are adding the organic display technology as well, but no sooner than the end of 2010. As such, just 184.5 million AMOLED displays would be made in 2014. The figure would be nine times more than the 20.4 million made last year, but just a fraction of the 1.75 billion LCDs anticipated for that same year.
Many companies are hesitant to get started on AMOLED as it has rapidly changing production costs and potential yield problems that make production less certain than now very mature LCDs. Also, LCD technology is advancing quickly enough that some of AMOLED's advantages aren't as strong; no AMOLED currently matches the pixel density of the iPhone 4's 960x640, 3.5-inch screen, for example, and most AMOLEDs still suffer from poor visibility outdoors. LCDs are still less expensive and scale much more easily to large sizes.
The conditions have been enough that they may have forced HTC to make one of its largest part swaps to date; it may have to switch most Android phones to LCD just to keep producing them at all and has sparked delays of up to a month. Apple's iPhone 4 is still facing three-week shipping delays online but has seen far higher shipping volumes.