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Our picture of the OLED display market is growing clearer. And it's not good news for the world's most fanatical customers.
The good folks at Ars Technica scored an interview with Barry Young, the managing director of the OLED Association, to clear up rumors of an Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) tablet computer shipping with OLED screens (short answer: Dream on, 'cause it ain't happening). In the process, Ars uncovered some previously little-known facts about the OLED market, and when you match the new data up with reports from DisplaySearch, you get some investable information.
Samsung, which has a longstanding OLED technology partnership with Rule Breakers pick Universal Display (Nasdaq: PANL ) , totally owns today's OLED market because of an early commitment to building factories to make OLED displays. LG Display (NYSE: LPL ) , the runner-up, is armed with all of Eastman Kodak's (NYSE: EK ) OLED expertise, but only runs 10% to 15% of Samsung's manufacturing capacity. Sony (NYSE: SNE ) has slowed down OLED manufacturing for now and is back to the R&D lab, and long-rumored OLED processes at General Electric (NYSE: GE ) have yet to result in any consumer-based retail products.
The industry is buckling under growing demand and constrained only by the lack of massive manufacturing facilities. Samsung and LG are selling as many screens as they can make, which (along with some manufacturing quirks) is why they can't commit to supplying millions of rather large OLED screens to Apple's iSlate.
Perhaps the most prominent OLED gadget on the market today is the Nexus One smartphone from Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) . When Google and manufacturing partner HTC decided to use a screen technology in short supply, they clearly didn't plan on selling millions of the darn thing.
In that light, widespread rumors of the next iPhone sporting an OLED display are probably nothing more than wishful thinking from the Apple faithful. The iPhone is too popular and would require far too many OLED screens. An already supply-constrained OLED industry simply can't make it happen just yet. Give Samsung, LG, and others another year or two to build out their factories, and maybe the fifth-generation iPhone could come with a glorious OLED screen. But the 2010 iteration almost certainly won't.
See anything I’m missing? Discuss in the comments area below.