SAN FRANCISCO—Shipments of flexible displays are expected to grow sharply next year as smartphone makers introduced more models with flexible screens. But the real growth trajectory for this technology remains in the immediate years ahead, according to a market research firm IHS Markit.
Flexible display unit shipments are projected to equal 139 million units next year, comprising nearly 4% of all display shipments, according to IHS. The estimated total of flexible display represents an increase of 135% compared to 2016, the firm said.
IHS expects flexible display shipments to increase exponentially in the coming years, reach 560 million units in 2023. While smartphones accounted for 76% of flexible display shipments in 2016, the real growth will come as more electronics devices utilize the technology on a widespread basis, including tablets, automotive monitors and TVs, according to IHS.
“Consumer device manufacturers will eventually move from conventionally designed flat and rectangular form factors to the latest curved, foldable or rollable screens, but only once their product roadmap for newer, innovative devices becomes more mature,” said Jerry Kang, principal analyst of display research for IHS, in a statement.
The Samsung Galaxy Round. Source: Samsung.
More smartphone models with flexible displays will hit the market in 2017. According to IHS, Apple Inc.’s next iPhone is expected to feature a flexible active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED).
“With new form factors entering the marketplace next year to entice consumers, smartphone manufacturers will find themselves locked in a fierce battle with one another as they jostle to win marketshare for their new smartphone models featuring dual-edge curved and foldable AMOLED displays,” Kang said.
Tight supply of flexible displays has been an issue. Kang said smartphone manufacturers have been pressuring suppliers to supply them with more flexible AMOLEDs for their new smartphone designs.
But supply is expected to be alleviate in 2017 as Samsung Display and LG Display start up new fabs, enabling more smartphones using the technology to enter the market, Kang said.
—Dylan McGrath covers the semiconductor industry for EE Times.