So you want an Droid Incredible smartphone, but Verizon
That's the simple reality of OLED technology today. Leading manufacturers Samsung Mobile Display and LG Display
But that will change in short order. Samsung is investing $2.2 billion in a next-generation OLED factory and has plans to go even further. Speaking at the Display Week conference in Seattle this week, Samsung Display's Chief Technical Officer Sang-Soo Kim gave some perspective to just how fast the manufacturing capacity is building out.
OLED screens are still mostly confined to handheld devices, because small screens are both simpler and cheaper to produce -- and every OLED panel yields lots of small-screen units. Shipping 45 million mobile displays this year, the OLED suppliers are reaching for an 8% market share. In 2015, we should see 600 million mobile units and better than 50% market penetration -- and on top of that, Kim predicts that OLED will also become the leading large-screen TV technology by then.
These are lofty goals for sure, but remember that these are still early days in the history of OLED. Commercialization is kicking in after just 10 years of development, much to the delight of technology providers Universal Display
This all sounds very fanciful and expensive today, but the manufacturing technology involved in making OLED screens is a close cousin to inkjet printing and will add up to massive cost savings when economies of scale kick in.
So the shortages will end, but not tomorrow. When you see a fancy new smartphone with an OLED screen, you can rest assured that neither gadget designer nor service provider expects to sell millions of it. They can't make 'em that fast, you see. The Incredible is too good for its own good.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Universal Display, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. Universal Display is a longtime Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Apple is a fresh-faced Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, 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.