Following Samsung’s introduction of the first flexible organic light-emitting diode (OLED) products this year, demand for these elastic displays is expected to grow by more than a factor of four next year, with sales reaching nearly $100 million in 2014.
Global market revenue for flexible OLEDs will rise to $94.8 million in 2014, up from $21.9 million in 2013, according to a recent report from IHS Inc., a leading global source of critical information and insight. Projected growth next year will equate to a 334 percent expansion from this year, paving the way for much larger sales in the future.
OLEDs represent a major segment of the larger flexible display market, which in the coming years will also include liquid-crystal display (LCD) and electronic paper (e-paper) technology.
The buzz about flexible displays has been growing louder, ever since Samsung Display demonstrated its Youm line of bendable OLED products at the Consumer Electronics Show at the beginning of this year in January. Samsung is expected to begin shipping its first flexible OLED display—a 5-inch screen—in the second half of 2013.
Samsung’s initial product is likely to be a first-generation flexible display, employing a non-glass substrate that yields superior thinness and unbreakable ruggedness. However, such displays are flat and cannot be bent or rolled. Flexible displays are expected to eventually evolve into rollable and foldable OLED screens that are likely to be introduced after 2016.
Even so, it is too early for flexible OLED panels to fully replace conventional OLED screens. This is because the plastic substrate, thin-film encapsulation and other related technologies for flexible OLED remain immature for immediate application. Moreover, manufacturing processes are still being tested.
Just the same, a wide range of complementary technologies is under development to accelerate the advancement of flexible displays. To this end, the success of the flexible OLED market will ultimately be determined by the maturity of the materials and manufacturing processes that will enable large-volume production at reasonable costs, IHS believes.