Display panel giant eyes opportunities in more emerging biz to further tap growth recovery
BOE Technology Group Co Ltd, a leading Chinese display panel maker, is doubling down on next-generation display technologies, including organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays and micro/mini light-emitting diodes displays, and expanding its presence in the emerging sectors of wearable devices, virtual reality, augmented reality and vehicle-mounted systems.
Shipments of BOE”s OLED panels reached nearly 80 million units last year, with the figure expected to increase to 120 million units in 2023, said Chen Yanshun, chairman of the company, estimating that the global panel sector will witness a growth recovery this year.
Si Da, vice-president and chief brand officer of BOE, said the company will step up its push in sensors and solutions, the internet of things and intelligent healthcare, as well as promote the integration of artificial intelligence, big data and 5G with semiconductor display technologies.
Si added that BOE has invested heavily in fundamental and forward-looking technologies, with research and development spending accounting for 7 percent of its total revenue each year.
Currently, BOE has established 17 intelligent semiconductor display production lines across the country and has built China’s first flexible OLED industrial clusters, covering three flexible active-matrix organic light-emitting diodes or AMOLED production lines located in Chengdu and Mianyang in Sichuan province, and Chongqing.
Statistics from Sigmaintell Consulting, a Beijing-based market research firm, show that BOE topped the domestic market with flexible OLED panel shipments of about 60 million units in 2021, up nearly 60 percent year-on-year, making it the world’s second-largest OLED maker next to South Korea’s Samsung display.
Chen Jun, vice-president and chief analyst of Sigmaintell, estimates that shipments of flexible OLED panels used for smartphones in China will surpass 220 million units in 2023, an increase of nearly 40 percent year-on-year.
Domestic display manufacturers are expected to account for a 38 percent share in the global smartphone OLED panel market this year, up 10 percentage points from a year ago, Chen said.
Chinese smartphone makers, such as Huawei Technologies Co and Xiaomi Corp, have adopted flexible OLED panels from homegrown display panel suppliers in their latest handsets, buoyed by the maturity of OLED technology and continuous decline in production costs.
Compared with traditional liquid crystal displays, the new-generation display technologies, such as OLEDs and micro/mini LEDs, have made great improvements in terms of image contrast, brightness and color spectrum, thus further accelerating the upgrade of the display industry, experts said.
China will overtake South Korea to become the biggest OLED manufacturer by 2024, as more Chinese companies have invested large sums of money into new production lines, said Zhou Hua, chief analyst at CINNO Research, a Chinese flat panel display consultancy firm.
Zhou said that at present, China has become the world’s largest display panel producer and is expected to account for about 76 percent of the global OLED production capacity by 2025.
Worldwide shipments of foldable phones will reach 41.5 million units in 2026, with a compound annual growth rate of 38.7 percent from 2021 to 2026, according to market research company International Data Corp.
Although IDC still believes the use of foldable smartphones remains a low priority, falling prices and new business use cases make the idea more appealing moving forward. The year 2023 will bring a 55.1 percent growth for foldable phones with continued double-digit growth throughout the forecasted period.
Li Yaqin, general manager of Sigmaintell, said demand for flexible OLED panels used in foldable smartphones will continue to rise on the back of 5G commercial applications. Panel makers should further improve their yield rate capacities and reduce production costs.
“The penetration rate of OLED displays in the mobile market is expected to reach 50 percent by 2024,” Li said, adding that flexible OLED panels will likely gain popularity in mid-range smartphones which will be priced for at least 2,500 yuan ($361.6) by 2025.