A video from Samsung is making the rounds today, showing an "unbreakable" OLED display surviving hammer hits that would shatter any glass-panel screen. The clip demonstrates how innovative manufacturing technologies -- like pasting pixel elements onto plastic instead of glass -- can overcome weaknesses of today's technology. You can even bend that screen while playing a full-color video. Take your Gorilla Glass and go home, Corning (NYSE: GLW ) .
What most sources won't bother telling you, however, is that the video is nine months old. Samsung implemented this technology nearly a year ago, likely based on OLED technologies from longtime partner Universal Display (Nasdaq: PANL ) . Trials of flexible screens like this one for use by the U.S. Department of Defense have been under way for years. The real news today is that Samsung is getting ready to commercialize its flexible, nigh- unbreakable OLED screen technology.
Samsung has a $2 billion OLED factory in the works, planning to go online next year and expand the output of the world's leading OLED manufacturer many times over. By 2012, the company plans to have flexible displays in mass production. This technology will undoubtedly create whole new markets for undreamed-of gadgets, kind of the way Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) wanted to invent a new product category with the iPad. (OLED screens may even be in Apple's future -- but not quite yet.)
Whether or not Samsung maintains its OLED market lead, Universal Display is nearly guaranteed to prosper. The company also licenses its pixel-pushing technologies to runner-up LG Display (NYSE: LPL ) , and there was Universal tech on board when Sony (NYSE: SNE ) presented the first OLED television. Universal Display's stock has bounced sky-high from lows in the $5 range last year. It's now within sniffing distance of nine-year highs.
The market is catching on to the profit potential of OLED technology. Is it too late to join the bandwagon? Discuss in the comments below.