New Smartphones Drive AMOLED Display Shortages

As smartphones reach new levels of popularity, high smartphone production volumes are driving component shortages. Current demand for active matrix organic light emitting diode (AMOLED) displays for smartphones has reached levels that are driving shortages of the displays and are now forcing some phone makers to shift some, or in some cases all, of their smartphone designs to liquid crystal displays (LCDs).

The Korea Herald reports that Pantech will discontinue AMOLED smartphone displays in favor of LCDs as has HTC for some of its smartphone models.  To date, HTC and Pantech have relied on Samsung Mobile Displays as their AMOLED display supplier.  The Korea Herald further reports that Samsung Mobile Display controls 98 percent of the global AM-OLED display market.  AMOLED display shortages are a result in part of parent company Samsung Electronics’ strong smartphone push.   Samsung’s global roll out of their Galaxy S line of smartphones will consume a large quantity of AMOLED displays as Samsung aims to sell 10 million Galaxy S smartphones.

The success of Samsung’s Galaxy S line of smartphones remains to be seen but initial reactions to the phone have been positive.  In contrast to Apple’s iPhone exclusivity arrangement with wireless service provider AT&T in the US, Samsung has announced a broad launch of the Galaxy S line across all four national carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon) and US Cellular.  When I first handled the Galaxy S at the CTIA show in Las Vegas in March 2010, it clearly showed the potential to compete head on with the iPhone.

The Galaxy S Vibrant is available from T-Mobile now and the Verizon Fascinate is expected in September.  The promotional video below from Verizon for the Fascinate emphasizes the key features of the Fascinate.  The hands-on video following, while lacking the punchy soundtrack, provides clear examples of the phone in action.

Promotional video for Samsung Fascinate Galaxy S smartphone for Verizon Wireless

Via YouTube

Samsung Fascinate Hands-on Video

Via MobileBurn.com

If the Galaxy S line of phones is as successful globally as Samsung intends, tight supplies of AMOLED displays may be with us for some time to come.  But this is not a new or unique situation.  The sales success of the Apple iPad since it launched in April 2010 has resulted in tight supplies of the iPad display – an in plane switching (IPS) LCD display manufacture by LG Display.  Although it will take some time for these tight supply situations to resolve as product and manufacturing planners deal with the opportunities presented, additional capacity will come on line.  Until then, consumers will just have to be patient until that new smartphone appears at the door step.

About Phillip Wright