It's true that OLED has so far been far less successful than LCD, but AUO may not be the right authority to state that OLED cannot become mainstream since it never led the development and marketing of OLED. Samsung has a virtual monopoly of the world's OLED display market. Samsung makes the materials, the panels, and the phones and televisions with OLED display.
Sony works with Panasonic of Matsushita. AUO makes the panels for Sony and Panasonic.
The pieces are falling into place about Panasonic and Sonyâ€™s OLED collaboration. At CES 2013, they exhibited a 56" 4K OLED TV and Taiwanese AU Optronics now confirms that they have been involved in the development of the OLED panel.
Sony, Panasonic & AUO develop OLED
Sony and Panasonic's 56" 4K OLED TVs were very impressive - but they received a little help from outside.
Taiwanese AU Optronics is one of the largest display panel manufacturers but is unknown to most people as they do not sell actual TV but only produces the display panels. Taiwanese AU Optronics â€“ or AUO â€“ confirms in an official press release that the â€œOLED panelâ€ was â€œjointly developed with Sonyâ€.
We reported on the first rumors on a Sony and AUO collaboration in March 2012. The question is if the trio can keep up with LG and Samsungâ€™s OLED roll-out. Samsung and LG exhibited the first OLED-TVs exactly one year ago but have yet to launch in significant quantities. Samsung is the largest OLED manufacturer today, based on its OLED production for mobile devices.
That Samsung is the largest OLED manufacturer is an understatement. It has something like 98% or 99% of the world market share. Half of the rest is LG's. Simply said, the only mass producer of OLED is Samsung. Since Samsung, LG, and Sony-Matsushita-AUO are launching OLED TVs, behind-the-scene wars regarding patents, business intelligence, and ensure low-cost material supply are fierce. AUO is the product of at least three Taiwanese display manufacturers from Acer, BenQ, and Quanta. When I say Samsung, it either means Samsung business group, Samsung family of business groups, or Samsung Electronics. Samsung's key players regarding OLED are Samsung Electronics, Samsung SDI, and SMD, but Samsung recently integrated their various LCD and OLED business divisions into Samsung Display.
And here's how AUO works with Sony and Matshishita to produce OLED panels to be shipped to HTC, one of the largest smartphone makers of Taiwan.
SMD will still be the primary supplier of AMOLED panels to both companies, and currently the quality of the SMD panels is still superior to AUO's ones. Indeed the reports say that AUO suffers from very low yields (around 20%) in their first AMOLED 3.5-Gen line in Taiwan.
AUO plans to invest around NT$40 billion (around $1.3 billion US) in 2012, mostly on AMOLED panel development and other advanced technologies. Earlier reports suggest that AUO is collaborating with Sony while other reports say that HTC secured AUO's entire OLED capacity. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in the middle...
Many of Samsung's own engineers and managers once said plasma was better for TV than LCD and that was less than 10 years ago.
Most of the differences are not really about technologies and the feasibility of commercialization, but about money and politics. Samsung has nothing to do with IPS. LG worked with Hitachi to make IPS panels. Sharp makes some of the better panels, but most OEM buyers would choose LG. Foxconn of Honhai based in Taiwan started working with Sharp. Samsung Electronics chooses AMOLED for their smartphones while Apple and LG adopt IPS.
Some more links regarding Samsung's OLED yield rates, but these are all in Korean.
AUO chairman is merely stating he hasn't been able to find out how Samsung recently increased the yield rate for large OLED panels from less than 10% to nearly 60% in the first half of this year.
Here's an NPD DisplaySearch article regarding its "Quarterly AMOLED Panel Cost Report".
And reports on Samsung buying 50% of Novaled AG, a Dresden company making materials for OLED. Cheil Industries is actually a Samsung company. Lee Gunhee's second daughter is its VP. Samsung Electronics buys 40% and another Samsung company already has 10%.
Manufacturing cost is high and materials and patents remain big barriers and raising the yield rates takes years and billions of money. But it's obvious it took Samsung fewer years with OLED than LCD.