Accepting BOE OLED panels, Apple is making the next big move

For entering the Apple OLED supply chain, BOE has been looking forward to it for a long time, but unfortunately it has not been able to do so. Now, it has finally ushered in the opportunity to turn the “spare tire” into a positive position.

Yesterday, according to foreign media reports, semiconductor Display technology company BOE (BOE) has been certified by Apple and will begin supplying OLED panels to the iPhone 12 this month.

The road to right is not easy

Although BOE already produces liquid crystal displays (LCDs) for iPads and MacBooks, BOE still has its sights set on the expanding OLED panel market. Therefore, BOE has been trying to become Apple’s OLED screen supplier, but has repeatedly failed.

Before the launch of the iPhone 12 series, some media reported that BOE failed to pass the screen quality test of Apple’s iPhone 12 models. At the same time, the media revealed that BOE’s factory in Chengdu, Sichuan is facing production problems, and perhaps it is these reasons that make Apple hesitant. Fortunately, now BOE has obtained the license.

If the cooperation has been finalized, it can mean that BOE will become part of Apple’s supply chain before the end of 2020. Moreover, the entry of BOE’s OLED screen into Apple’s supply chain this time can also demonstrate BOE’s technical strength in OLED. But so far, BOE public relations personnel responded to this news: they do not know the relevant situation.

Accepting BOE, Apple’s next big game?

For a long time, Apple has been wavering in the purchase of panels, constantly looking for a “spare tire” for itself.

Previously, Apple was stuck by Apple because of OLED panels, and Apple also rejected Samsung’s LCD panel and chip foundry. Since then, Apple has cultivated LG to become Samsung’s competitor in order to reduce its dependence on Samsung’s OLED panels. From the perspective of industry insiders, Apple is also out of multiple considerations for pulling BOE into the OLED supplier camp this time. It can not only make panel suppliers form a three-pronged situation and restrain each other, but also better help itself and Samsung and LG to cut down. price.

Of course, no matter how competitive the entire screen selection process will be, the final choice is still in the hands of “Apple”. Moreover, the current Apple is not Wuxia Amon, it has mastered the real display technology strength.

Since Apple was stuck by Samsung, it has been working on developing its own screen.

In addition to acquiring micro LED screen maker LuxVue, Apple has also developed its own technology on OLED, which is LTPO technology. It is reported that in terms of LTPO technology, Apple has at least three key patents, namely “OLED panels with semiconductor oxide and silicon thin film transistors, display panels using silicon and semiconductor oxide thin film transistors, and protection of semiconductor oxidation in the hybrid TFT process. In 2019, LTPO began to be applied to the Apple Watch, and it is reported that the technology will also be used in the next-generation iPhone.

It can be seen from the above that with the addition of BOE, Apple has gradually taken the initiative in the selection of the current panel supply chain. On the one hand, Apple can restrict the “monopoly and competition” of panel manufacturers through technology authorization, and turn passive into active;

BOE welcomes spring

According to the statistics of relevant institutions in the industry, it can be seen that in the first half of 2020, the global major panel factories shipped 92M flexible OLED panels for smartphones, a significant increase of 36% year-on-year. Among them, BOE accounted for 16.2% of flexible OLED transactions. Earlier, BOE announced that it planned to ship 40 million flexible OLEDs for the year. Among them, 16 million flexible OLEDs have been shipped in the first half of this year. If the remaining shipments can be completed in the second half of the year, it will increase by 140% compared with the same period last year.

According to Digitimes Research, OLED-based models are expected to account for 40 percent of global smartphone shipments by 2021. In addition, demand for OLED panels for the Apple Watch may double next year.

According to industry chain information, it can be predicted that by 2021, Samsung, LG and BOE will supply 130 million, 40 million and 10 million OLED panels respectively. Among them, BOE expects that the annual supply in 2021 will account for 5.5%. In 2021, BOE’s target shipments of iPhone OLED panels doubled to 20 million units compared with market forecasts.

Chang Cheng, vice president of BOE, predicted at the Mianyang Science and Technology Expo in September this year that the size of the global flexible OLED panel market will reach US$49.7 billion in 2024, and BOE hopes to account for 40%.

In addition, with the continuous opening of OLED panel production capacity in China and the further improvement of the market penetration rate of terminal products, the localization of upstream and downstream OLED panels will be an important investment opportunity and layout direction in the future. At the same time, the technology of the OLED supporting industry chain Process difficulty and patent restrictions are also more challenging than LCD.

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