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BOE bets big on high-tech displays

BOE Technology Group Co Ltd, a Chinese display panel supplier, is doubling down on new-generation display technologies.

Such displays, BOE Technology said, have huge application potential in smartphones, televisions, tablets, wearable gadgets, monitors and vehicle-mounted displays.

BOE will continue its investment in research and development of high-end liquid crystal displays, flexible organic light-emitting diodes and mini light-emitting diodes, said Liu Xiaodong, its president.

BOE's R&D expenditure was nearly 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) in 2020, or about 7 percent of the company's total revenue, he said.

BOE's revenue in the first nine months of this year exceeded 163 billion yuan, up 72 percent year-on-year, generating a net profit of 20 billion yuan, up a staggering 708 percent year-on-year.

Omdia, a market research provider, said BOE has become the world's largest flat-panel display manufacturer. Besides, it has launched technology brands covering state-of-the-art displays and solutions, as part of its broader push to drive the transformation and upgrading of the country's display industry.

Industry experts said the new display technologies like OLED and mini LED are great improvements over previous versions, and offer sharper images in terms of contrast, brightness and color as well as a high level of efficiency.

The flexible display panel industry, they said, will likely see explosive growth next year as leading smartphone makers have launched new products like foldable phones to bolster their sagging fortunes.

Omdia data showed the global OLED panel shipments for smartphones will reach 812 million units in 2022, up nearly 39 percent from an estimated 585 million units this year.

BOE owns three sixth-generation flexible active-matrix organic light-emitting diode or AMOLED production lines. It started mass production of the flexible panels from its facility in Chengdu, Sichuan province, in October 2017. The panels have already been used by more than 10 smartphone manufacturers.

The company's second production line in Mianyang, Sichuan province, began mass production in 2019, while its third facility in Chongqing was put into operation recently.

Sigmaintell Consulting, a Beijing-based market research provider, said BOE shipped 16 million OLED panels in the third quarter of this year, topping the domestic players.

Li Yaqin, general manager of Sigmaintell, said demand for flexible OLED panels used in foldable smartphones will continue to rise on the back of commercial applications of 5G technology, and panel makers should further improve their yield rate capacities and reduce production costs.

"The penetration rate of OLED in the mobile market will reach 50 percent by 2024. By then, the overall shipment of global mobile panels will reach 1.6 billion units and half of them will be from OLED," Li said, adding about 60 to 70 percent of sales revenue will be contributed by OLED.

Global revenue of the mini/micro LED market is projected to reach $4.2 billion by 2024, said a report from TrendForce, another market research provider. Since 2019, total investments in mini/micro LED-related projects in China have reached 39.1 billion yuan.

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