Video aficionados are rightfully enthused about OLED technology with its detailed picture quality, near-perfect black levels, lower power consumption, lighter weight and durability. Adoption has always been a trickier proposition however. Is OLED poised to take over in 2018? It’s rise to fame is surely coming, but not as soon as you might like.
Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) is predicted to produce a compound growth rate of 15.2 percent between 2017 and 2023. Among several OLED growth predictions, Markets and Markets’ research report forecasts a $48.81 billion OLED market by 2023 from $16.58 billion in 2016.
The report cites positive user experience with OLED devices as a major driving force, spurring a rapid adoption. OLED-powered displays on smartphones, televisions, digital signage, digital video cameras, general lighting devices, and other commercial and residential AV solutions are becoming widely attractive. Advancements and growing investments in technology and government support for OLED R&D are also helping drive growth on the OLED market.
The Future of OLED Technology Across Regions and Industries
The OLED market research covers four major regions in the world. Asia Pacific was ahead of North America, Europe, and the rest of the world in the OLED market in 2016. APAC garnered the largest share because several major display panel companies have manufacturing bases and product outlets across the region. With names like Sharp, Konica Minolta, Samsung and Huawei among many other players, the region is expected to maintain its lead in the OLED market during the forecast period.
The report predicts that the North America OLED market will experience a significant growth rate between 2017 and 2023. Apple—being the world’s leading smartphone vendor—will be a key consumer of OLED display panels for smartphones, iPads and laptops. Europe will come in as a close competitor. While both markets are becoming mature and, thus, may stagnate, continuing technology development may still enhance growth.
What AV Pros Need to Know About OLED
The general global sentiment toward the AV market is leaning toward the positive. Midwich Group Plc, a specialist AV distributor with operations in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, did a presentation on the state of the AV market. The presentation claims that the global AV market is expected to grow from $178 billion in 2016 to $230 billion in 2022 with a CAGR of five percent. High competition will be in play among these major regions: Asia Pacific, the Americas and Europe.
New digital solutions, including OLEDs, have created disruption industry-wide. Even big manufacturers are finding it difficult to integrate various solutions into a coherent system. The projected OLED market growth not only presents opportunities for one-time AV integration but potential management and maintenance services.
AV professionals also need to remember the impact of planned obsolescence where everything—from people to products to services to skills—becomes obsolete with the passing of time, making continuous change a fact of life.
OLED Technology Growth Not Without Challenges
While OLED is something to watch out for, it is unlikely to take over digital displays in 2018 simply because of supply and demand. On the demand side, the low acceptance of OLED lighting fixtures and a high demand for direct-view LED and LCD (liquid crystal display) displays are hindering large-scale OLED production. For instance, LED LCD is still the most common TV display technology, with OLED found only in high-end TV units.
CNET offers a comparison between OLED TV and the next best thing. Here are some highlights of that comparison:
- Brightness or light output: LCD edges out OLED because its backlight brightens up the whole screen while OLED can’t produce as much brightness.
- Black level: Black level is the other side of brightness or how dark a display can get. OLED gets the nod over LCD in this category because it can turn off individual pixels completely and produce the perfect black. LCDs only offer local dimming, with the best ones having full-array local dimming, but even these can go through “blooming” where a bright area can affect an adjacent dark area on the screen.
- Contrast ratio: Here, OLED clearly has the edge, with the best contrast ratio over any modern display. Contrast ratio is the difference between the brightness and darkness of a TV and is key to picture quality. The higher the contrast ratio, the more realistic the display will look.
- Resolution: This one’s a tie between OLED and LCD because both are widely available in ultra HD 4K form.
- High dynamic range (HDR): HDR is an extension of contrast ratio that improves brightness and darkness distinction. OLED and LCD are tied because both models are HDR-compatible.
- Viewing angle: OLED easily wins over LCD in this category because its images look basically the same even from extreme angles. LCDs have off-axis issues where picture quality changes if you’re sitting off to the side.
- Energy consumption: LED LCD is the winner, with OLED coming in as runner-up. LCD energy consumption depends on the backlight setting. A low backlight adjustment will draw less power. The higher energy consumption of OLED is related to display brightness. One way to lower OLED power consumption is to reduce brightness, but reduced brightness affects contrast ratio and picture quality.
- Price: LCD TV is much cheaper than its OLED counterpart mainly due to the greater complexity of manufacturing OLED. The complexity of the OLED value chain—represented by organic material suppliers, technology developers, and equipment producers—also contributes to the delay in time to market. It’s worth considering, though, that LG has chipped off the price of its OLED TVs several times and that some high-end LCD models are not far in price from OLED offerings.
While OLED won’t be taking over displays in 2018, competition seems to be taking off, with Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba, and Philips coming out with their own OLED TV launches. Samsung and Apple have also recently introduced their own flagship phones powered by OLED technology. Let’s hope the imminent OLED race and the positive OLED market outlook will soon make OLED displays more affordable.