TOKYO -- Organic light-emitting diode panels for smartphones are likely to remain in tight supply until 2019 or later, as output falls behind growing demand for the high-resolution screen components.
Global demand for the panels probably will grow 44% this year to 530 million units, estimates U.S. survey company Display Supply Chain Consultants. But supply will rise just 5% higher from that figure -- half of the 10% margin that indicates breathing room for shippers.
OLED panels have gained traction in smartphones not just for their resolution, sharper than liquid crystal displays, but for their relatively light energy footprint.
Samsung Display, a major OLED panel maker affiliated with South Korean giant Samsung Electronics, is expected to begin mass production at new facilities in the second half of this year. But the added output will mainly go toward Samsung's Galaxy line and Apple's iPhone, says Yoshio Tamura, Display Supply's head of Asian operations.
Major Chinese panel makers, including BOE Technology Group and Tianma Micro-electronics, will open OLED-making facilities as early as next year. But with their relative inexperience, it will take about two years to bring production to full swing, says Tamura.
Display Supply expects supply to outstrip demand by 10% with just under 1 billion units in 2019 amid higher production capacity. OLED panel prices can be expected to stay firm until the squeeze loosens.