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Report: China set to lead in OLED displays production on companies' surging investment

China is set to take a lead in the state-of-the-art organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) semiconductor display technology, which has broad application prospects in the field of high-end smartphones, televisions, wearable devices, augmented reality and virtual reality display segments, industry analysts said.

OLED is a relatively new technology and part of the recent innovations in displays. It has a fast response rate, wide viewing angles, super high-contrast images and richer colors. It is thinner and can be made flexible and foldable, compared with the traditional LCD display panel.

The shipment of OLED panels used in smartphones is expected to rise to about 100 million units in the Chinese market this year from 83 million units last year, as major smartphone makers have ramped up efforts to launch foldable handsets, said Sigmaintell Consulting, a Beijing-based market research firm.

The consultancy said the OLED panel shipments for smartphones in China rose 37.4 percent year-on-year to about 36 million units in the third quarter.

Display panel supplier BOE Technology Group Co Ltd topped the domestic market with OLED panel shipments of 16 million units in the third quarter. It became the world's second-largest OLED maker next to South Korea's Samsung Display. Visionox Technology Inc took second place domestically with shipments of 6.3 million units in the third quarter.

China will overtake South Korea to become the biggest OLED manufacturer by 2024, as more Chinese companies have invested heavily in new OLED 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 foreseen accounting for about 76 percent of global OLED production capacity by 2025.

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

Flexible OLED panels will be popular in mid-range smartphones which are priced at more than 2,500 yuan ($392) by 2025, Li said.

According to market research company Omdia, OLED panel shipments for smartphones will reach 812 million units globally next year, an increase of 38.8 percent compared with the estimated 585 million units in 2021.

Chinese smartphone makers have increased the number of high-end smartphones integrating flexible active-matrix organic light-emitting diodes, or AMOLED, panels, said Brian Huh, principal analyst of small and medium-sized displays at Omdia.

Xu Fengying, vice-president of Visionox, said AMOLED panels will have wider applications in smartphones, computers, smart wearables, vehicles, virtual reality and augmented reality because of surging demand for flexible display screens.

"The AMOLED market will continue to grow, and the penetration rate of flexible display products is expected to rise," said Zhu Xiujian, general manager of Visionox's product engineering center, adding the flexible and foldable screens will play a vital role in bolstering the growth of small and medium-sized smartphones.

In addition, global shipments of televisions are expected to fall to 232 million units this year, down 7.1 percent on a yearly basis. TV sales in the domestic market, which fell 15.9 percent year-on-year to 25.89 million units in the January-September period, will slump to 41 million units by the end of the year, said Sigmaintell.

However, shipments of OLED TVs will reach 6.6 million units in 2021, up 85 percent year-on-year, the consultancy said.

Chinese television maker Skyworth Group has been producing OLED TVs in partnership with South Korea's largest panel maker, LG Display, since 2013. Other home appliance manufacturers such as Hisense, Konka, Huawei and Sony have also tapped into the OLED TV market.

OLED TVs will become the future development direction of the TV industry and present an opportunity for TV manufacturers to expand their profit margins, said Wen Jianping, president of Beijing-based market consultancy All View Cloud.

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