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New iPads Are Coming -- but OLED Screens Aren't

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Will Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) release iPads with fancy OLED screens in our lifetime?

The well-regarded Taiwanese tech rag Digitimes quotes "sources from component makers" saying that Steve Jobs and his merry band have been ordering up a storm lately. The orders supposedly include OLED panels of tablet-like 5.6-inch and 7-inch sizes, getting Apple ready for a couple of new product releases late this year or early 2011. If you recall, the original iPad was introduced in January 2010, though product didn't appear on store shelves until months later. The timing seems about right.

The timing for a refreshed iPad line, that is. The OLED rumor is very likely nothing but a mirage. Leading OLED panel manufacturer Samsung can hardly crank out enough screens to satisfy the internal needs of its own handset division, much less ship millions of larger screens to an outsider such as Apple. LG Display (NYSE: LPL  ) is playing catch-up, Eastman Kodak (NYSE: EK  ) recently sold its remaining OLED patents, and I don't see much news about OLED displays out of General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) these days.

In short, the supply-and-demand equation here does not work out in Apple's favor. Smaller iPads may indeed be in the works, and that kind of gadget would likely be less about carving out a new market niche, and more about competing head-to-head with e-book readers from Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) , (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) , and Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS  ) . But OLED screens remain a pipe dream for the iPad, or for any other mass-market device of the iPad's scale.

OLED's time will come, even in heavy-volume sectors like megahit phones and tablets. But could we let Samsung finish building its factories before we expect OLEDs in the Apple store? Thanks.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Apple and are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.

Read/Post Comments (5) | Recommend This Article (13)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On July 14, 2010, at 3:28 PM, lovethelanguage wrote:

    With all the questions about there being a space for the iPad between smartphones and notebooks, I seriously doubt Apple's planning yet another format, and what will it do that the iPhone and iPad don't already? This is not happening.

  • Report this Comment On July 14, 2010, at 4:28 PM, lovethelanguage wrote:

    ... then again, I was one of the people who said there was NO WAY the iPad would be called "the iPad".

  • Report this Comment On July 14, 2010, at 5:44 PM, TMFSymington wrote:

    Why no mention of Universal Display Corporation (PANL) here? They were the first name to come to mind for me...

  • Report this Comment On July 14, 2010, at 6:32 PM, TMFZahrim wrote:

    Sorry symie5, contractual/disclosure reasons why I can't mention that ticker today. But the story had to be covered with or without it.


  • Report this Comment On July 15, 2010, at 1:01 AM, Maguire09 wrote:

    The iPad is a wonderful invention and product, but there are many other tablets in the making, the Dell Streak is said to impressive enough to give the iPad a run for its money. And the there is another Android tablet in the works which has the potential to outshine the beloved iPad. There are a few key flaws with the iPad that are keeping some from touching it, particularly the lack of a USB port, which is essential for many artists, musicians, and entertainment professionals. Without the capability to access mics, writers, and instruments this little marvelous machine is rendered useless for a large group of iSupporters.

    There is an interview series on the iPad discussing current and future application that you might like.

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