In a few years, your morning newspaper won't fall on your doorstep. Instead, it will probably be downloaded to a screen that looks and feels sort of like a piece of paper.
The revolution that will bring about this change is called OLED, or organic light-emitting diodes. Today, you'll find OLEDs in lighting systems, television screens, and some other visual displays. But that's just the beginning.
What is it?
OLEDs are self-illuminating devices that can be laid out on flat-panel displays. They're energy-efficient and use much less power than LCD screens do.
According to market-research firm NanoMarkets, the OLED industry will be worth $4.8 billion globally by 2016, with sales in Japan having the potential to quickly reach $1.1 billion.
But even so, there are certain issues that need to be addressed first.
The OLED story
Several big names have been trying to find a footing in this market. One of the first to enter the game was Eastman Kodak
Then there's eMagin
But there are some roadblocks for the OLED TV manufacturers, including high prices. The XEL-1 costs $2,500 for an 11-inch set in the United States; in Britain it goes for close to $5,000. Sony's other OLED offering, the Trimaster monitor, costs a whopping $16,000.
Even with all the market confidence surrounding this technology, the prices could be an impediment to global expansion, especially in Asia's emerging markets. The falling prices for other types of flat-panel displays won't help, either.
End of the fat price tag?
However, prices could come down in the future. Last year, DuPont
On the lighting front, General Electric
Foolish bottom line
These sexy, super-sleek OLED screens are hitting a massive roadblock when it comes to price. But as manufacturers continue to develop ways to lower costs, adoption could pick up quickly. When that happens, look out for an exciting investment opportunity.