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Chinese Panel Makers in Crisis! Will the Display Business’s Deficit Increase This Year?

<Honor 70 With Panels Supplied by Visionox>

Chinese panel makers such as Visionox and BOE are expected to face losses due to cost pressures.
The operation rate of Visionox was analyzed to be high. This is because Visionox is exclusively producing 70-80% of Honor, a large Chinese smartphone manufacturer.
However, despite the high operation rate, Visionox’s business status is precarious at best. Through cooperative efforts, Visionox was allocated most of Honor’s panel production quantity, but it is known that Honor has requested additional panel price reduction. According to some sources, Visionox is currently facing a loss of about 200 million yuan per month due to the reduced panel price.
BOE, the largest panel maker in China is also facing trouble. BOE along with Visionox had previously been in charge of panel production for Honor but received almost no allocation of production volume from Honor. Earlier this year, BOE faced tremendous difficulty due to the cancellation of existing iPhone 13 shipments to Apple. In April, BOE’s CEO Gao Wenbao felt a sense of crisis due to pressure on OLED and LCD volume and price and gave direct orders on cost reduction. Currently, BOE’s OLED line operation rate is less than 40% and it is estimated that the OLED business unit may incur a loss of about 10 billion yuan this year.
LCD, which is one of the main businesses of Chinese panel makers, is continuously falling in prices and the supply and demand of panels from smartphone set makers are sluggish. If an appropriate countermeasure is not found, Chinese panel makers will continue to experience a growing deficit in the display business.

[China Trend Report] Honor Magic4 Series, Panel Supply from BOE and Visionox

According to the ‘China Trend Report’ published by UBI Research, Honor, a Chinese smartphone manufacturer, announced Magic4 and Magic4 Pro at MWC 2022 held on February 28th.

Both products are 6.81 inches in size. Magic4 has a resolution of 1224×2664 and Magic4 Pro has a resolution of 1312×2848. The peak brightness of both products is 1,000nits and the refresh rate is 120Hz. LTPO TFT and 1,920Hz high frequency PWM dimming technology are applied.

The display panel is supplied by Chinese panel makers BOE and Visionox. The DDIC is supplied by Taiwanese IC chip maker Novatek. BOE supplies panels of three models: Magic4, Magic4 Pro, and Magic4 Pro plus. Visionox supplies panels of two models, Magic4 and Magic4 Pro.

Detailed mass production line and quantity estimation of Honor Magic4 series are included in ‘China Trend Report’. The ‘China Trend Report’ provides various information on the Chinese display industry trends, such as the latest issues of major Chinese display companies, line trends and shipments, equipment disclosures by company, and introduction of new products in China. The report can be inquired on the UBI Research website.

[UBI Research China Trend Report] Chinese Panel Makers’ Total Shipments of OLED Panels for Smartphones in the Fourth Quarter of 2021 Increased by 26% Compared to the Third Quarter

26% Increase in Total Shipments of Chinese OLED Panels for Smartphones in the Fourth Quarter compared to the Third Quarter

 

According to UBI Research’s ‘February 1st China Trend Report’, total shipments of OLED panels for smartphones by Chinese panel makers in the fourth quarter of 2021 were 44.8 million units, a 26% increase from 35.57 million units in the previous quarter. By company, BOE shipped 20.9 million units and occupied a 46.7% share, followed by Visionox with 9.7 million units, EverDisplay Optronics with 5.5 million units, CSOT with 5.5 million units, and Tianma with 3.1 million units.

 

By substrate, flexible OLED panel shipments were the highest for BOE with 20.9 million units, followed by CSOT with 5.5 million units, Visionox with 4.7 million units, and Tianma with 3 million units. BOE’s panel shipments increased the most compared to the previous quarter with an increase of 5.3 million units, followed by Visionox by 1.9 million units and Tianma by 1 million units. CSOT’s panel shipments decreased by 300,000 units from the previous quarter.

In the field of rigid OLED panel shipments, EverDisplay Optronics shipped 5.54 million units, a decrease of 80,000 units compared to the third quarter, but maintained the No. 1 position in rigid OLED panel shipments with a market share of 52%. Visionox, in second place, shipped 5.04 million units, up 43% QoQ, chasing EverDisplay Optronics. Tianma’s rigid OLED panel shipments were 120,000 units, accounting for only 1%.

The details can be found in the UBI Research China Trend Report, and inquiries can be made on the UBI Research website.

[2021 Visionox Technology Innovation Conference] Chief Executive Officer Zhu Xiujian, “We will provide the ultimate experience through form innovation, basic performance enhancement, and function integration”

At the Visionox Technology Innovation Conference in 2021, Zhu Xiujian, Chief Executive Officer of Visionox Technology Product Engineering Center, gave a presentation on OLED industry trends and Visionox’s advanced technology exploration.

In the OLED industry trend, Chief Executive Officer Zhu emphasized, “Flexible OLED is expected to occupy more than 30% of the panels for mobile devices after 2023, and cost reduction is the only way to expand the market.”

In the OLED technology change for mobile devices that followed, “From 2011 to 2018, a full screen with a notch or a narrow bezel became a trend, from 2019 to 2020, we pursued morphological differentiation such as camera pop-up, punch hole, U-notch, and under panel camera,” he said. He also announced, “After 2021, basic performance such as high refresh rate and low power consumption has been strengthened, and more differentiated technologies such as foldable and advanced UPC are being developed.”

Finally, the Chief Executive Officer mentions form innovation, basic performance improvement, function integration and advanced technology innovation for Visionox’s product innovation solution, full screen and various folding technologies for shape innovation, visual experience and low power consumption with improved pixel structure and color performance for basic performance improvement, cost reduction through layer integration, fingerprint recognition or touch pressure sensing technology for functional integration, and advanced technology In Innovation, he finished the presentation by mentioning micro LED and saying that it will provide optimal solutions to users.

Flexible OLED Leading the OLED Panel Market from 2019

■ Flexible OLED is expected to ship 480 million units in 2019, surpassing Rigid OLED shipments.

■ Full-screen OLED among Flexible OLED is expected to have an average market share of 78.3% by 2022, dominating the market.

■ Foldable OLED is expected to ship in earnest from 2019.

Flexible OLED shipments are expected to exceed rigid OLED shipments in 2019. According to the ‘2017 Flexible OLED Annual Report’ published by Ubi Research, flexible OLEDs are expected to ship 480 million units in 2019, surpassing 409 million units of rigid OLED shipments. In addition, flexible OLED shipments will grow at a CAGR of 41% starting in 2018, reaching 1,285 million units in 2022 with forecasted revenue of US$ 59.4 billion.

<OLED Market Share Forecast by Substrate in 2018 ~ 2022>

Recently, as the hardware technology of mobile devices has been leveled up, set makers targeting the premium market are trying to differentiate their products by adopting OLED. Especially, set makers are beginning to introduce flexible OLED capable of full screen, as the needs of consumers who want a wider screen in mobile devices (even in the same sizes) on the increase.

 

Accordingly, panel makers are continuing to invest in flexible OLED mass production. Since Chinese panel makers such as BOE, CSOT and Visionox are expected to start mass production of Gen6 flexible OLED starting in 2018, flexible OLED shipments will likely grow at an average growth rate of 59% per annum, reaching 354 million units by 2022.

 

This report compares the structure and process of rigid OLED and flexible OLED, and analyzes the trends of technology development for foldable OLED implementation by layer. It also compares the flexible OLED application technology of Samsung Electronics, Apple, and LG Electronics which released mobile devices with full screen OLED. The report also forecasts the flexible OLED market from 2018 to 2022 by categorizing into various perspectives including flexible type, country and generation.

 

According to the report, full screen OLEDs of flexible OLEDs will ship 265 million units in 2018 with a market share of 82.1%, and 1,022 million shipments will be made in 2022, accounting for 79.5% of the market, leading the flexible OLED market. In addition, the foldable OLED, which has been receiving a great deal of attention recently, is expected to ship 5 million units from 2019 and 53 million units by 2022.

<Foldable OLED Shipment Forecast in 2018~ 2022>

 

IoT Era – Smart interface focused on display

With the Google’s comments in 2015 that the new IoT era is coming, the 13th China International Display Conference started with the presentation of BOE, a large Chinese display company, with the topic of the era of smart interfaces to be developed in the future.

Randy Chen (BOE, Sales Marketing Executive) shared the overall IT market trend as the first presentation and delivered the BOE’s strategy within it. At the heart of the IOT industry, which is expected to account for around $ 10 trillion in 2050, smart interfaces that link 5G communications and electronics to displays will play a big role and emphasized 8K and flexible display as BOE’s survival strategy. For this, he announced that they are working to build the 8K Industry Alliance and continuing to invest in the production of flexible displays starting with Chendu’s G6 Flexible Line. OLED panels produced in the Chendu B7 line, which began operating in the second half of this year, will be supplied to a smartphone maker in Shenzhen and expected to be seen in the market early next year.

Next, Xiuqi Huang (GVO, Vice President) of Visionox, who first started producing OLEDs starting with PMOLED, mentioned the change of smartphone trend and said that a mobile device with a foldable and rollable type using a flexible panel will be introduced in the future. He said that the technological development is required not only in design but also in related equipment and materials and Visionox has also been actively developing its technology.

CSOT, which produces QD-LCDs together with Samsung Display, mentioned the development potential of QLED and OLED TV and said that it was spurring technological development and investment as a latecomer. Especially, it was developing large-area inkjet printing technology that has advantages of relatively high material utilization rate and price competitiveness, on the other hand, it shared the goal of developing a smartphone panel that minimizes Bezel.

Following the presentation of representative panel companies in China, Lee Choong-hoon of Ubi Research, a global OLED research company, forecasted the market size of the OLED market, which is already leading the small-medium-sized panel market and the premium TV panel market and discussed why OLEDs have grown rapidly as a next-generation display. Ubi Research, as an OLED professional research company, is suggesting directions for future growth of OLED based on years of data and research experience.

In current display industry, major global smartphone makers such as Apple, Samsung and Huawei already have plans to apply OLED to all flagship models and TV companies such as LG Electronics and Sony have also shown that OLED TVs can only succeed in the premium market. This is why we expect the development of various types of panels and various applications that maximize the advantages of OLED forward.

Visionox Announced OLED’s Own Innovative Technology is Flexible Display

Visionox’s principle researcher Li Lin gave a keynote speech with a theme “Development of Foldable AMOLED Display” at the 3rd OLED Korea Conference held for two days from March 8 to 9 by UBI Research.

Principle researcher Li Lin explained the development trend of flexible display, saying “Initial CRT was originally developed as an oscilloscope, but due to the development of full-color technology, it has been used commonly in our lives. LCD was also developed as a segment display, but due to the development of semiconductor technology, TFT black plane was applied to LCD so that LCD could be able to be used for smartphone and large-screen TV as well. The combination of the latest electronic technology and material technology enables display innovation, and the most innovative technology of OLED different from existing displays is a flexible display, Visionox is intensively developing now”.

In addition, he introduced the development history of Visionox’s flexible display, unveiled touch sensor 7-inch foldable AMOLED display that was developed in November 2016, and announced this module featuring 180° out-folding passed a folding test.

<Flexible AMOLED display with the touch-sensor featuring 180° out-folding, Source: Visionox.com>

He added that in order to develop foldable display, it is very essential to improve reliability of TFT, use durable materials such as strong OCA, scratch-resistant and durable cover window film, thinner circular polarizer layer, and panel-combined touch panel, and decrease module thickness.

Meanwhile, principle researcher Li Lin said “The mass production of Flexible OLED panel finally depends on the yield improvement. But, skills and experience for mass production are still insufficient.” Regarding the question about the development of circular polarizer layer, he answered “Reducing thickness is a key. And, we are considering the way to combine with another layer.” Lastly, regarding the development of Touch panel, “Among various technologies, especially on-cell technology is now under examination”, and regarding materials, “Metal mesh seems to be a good alternative, but there is no specific plan yet” he announced.

AMOLED panel for smart phones, just around the corner of 100million-unit shipment in a quarter

According to UBI Research, the shipment amount of AMOLED panel for smart phones in the 3rd quarter of 2016 was announced to be counted as 96million units.

It is the figure increased for 103% compared with the last quarter, and increased for 148% compared with the same period of last year, and it renewed the quarterly highest shipment amount once again, after the last quarter.

The person in charge of UBI Research mentioned that “The output of flexible AMOLED panels for Galaxy Note 7 was reduced compared to the plan due to the discontinuation of the production of Galaxy Note 7, however, the increase in shipments of AMOLED panels for China and Galaxy s7 series is seemed to play a important role in the increase of shipments in the third quarter.”

Currently, Samsung Display occupies more than 91% of the AMOLED panel market for smart phones, and Chinese panel makers such as BOE, EDO, Tianma, and Visionox are conducting mass production with small quantities.

In addition, Apple is expected to apply the flexible AMOLED panel to some models of the iPhone to be launched in 2017, therefore, future AMOLED panel market for smart phones will be increased continuously.

UBI Research expects that the annual shipment amount of AMOLED panel will form the market volume as about 1.4billion units by 2020 with the average annual growth rate of 41%, and flexible AMOLED panel among them will account for about 61%.

Smart Phone AMOLED Panel Shipment Forecast, Source : UBI research

BY HYUNJUN JANG, HANA OH