Although Samsung Display has reportedly secured a contract with Apple for the production of flexible OLED panels, the high demand for the iPhone devices puts other players such as LG Display, Japan Display and Sharp (Foxconn) into the OLED supply game.
Citing "industry sources" in South Korea, ETNews.com claims that Samsung Display and Apple signed off on an official contract and decided on amount of supply of flexible OLEDS for this year. These panels will be obviously used in Apple’s next iPhone. Samsung Display has already made investments and its strategy is to increase yields and OLED production before any newcomers catch up on to Samsung Display.
On the other hand, LG Display, which was seen as the business that is most likely to become the secondary OLED supplier for Apple, is not making any movements currently.
Actually, LG Display is said to have delayed in securing supply of OLED depositors, which are the main equipment in a process for manufacturing Flexible OLEDs. Currently, the main provided of small OLED depositors is Canon Tokki, but Samsung Display and China's BOE Technology Group have reportedly already ordered huge amount of depositors from Canon Tokki, meaning that LG Display could face significant delays in OLED production.
This could force Apple to look in Japanese and Taiwanese manufacturers in order to ensure stable OLED supplies.
Japan’Display Inc. (JDI) could be chosen by Apple as the 3rd supplier, along with Taiwan’s Foxconn, which has emerged as an other potential candidate as it will soon take over Sharp.
JDI had invested about 3 billion yen (about $26.9 million) to expand its OLED lines in Ishikawa and has set a goal to mass-produce small OLED panels starting from 2018.
Although Sharp does not have any experience in mass-producing small OLEDs, it has been doing R&D in that area for long time.
Industries are estimating that Samsung Display will supply at least 50% and up to 70 to 80% of OLED panels for early iPhones that will have Flexible OLEDs. Of course, this depends on how fast the company will stabilize its OLED production and increase yields.