Samsung takes the air out of flexible display rumours

Sara Ver-Bruggen - 27 Nov 2012


Periodically, fresh stories do the rounds that Samsung is planning to launch products that feature flexible active matrix (AM) OLED displays in the not-to-distant-future.

Samsung's flexible displays, seen here in 2011, are still some way from commercialisation Most recently a story based on information from an unnamed source was published by the Wall Street Journal, spurring a flurry of reports on online gadget sites and even national newspaper websites, suggesting mid-2013 will be when new products featuring electronic displays made on flexible backplanes will enter the market, preceded by production starting up in the first half of the year.

However, Samsung's JK Shin, president and head of IT and mobile communications division in Galaxy products, stated: 'I have often heard such rumours. However, there is a long way to go before flexible display manufacturing technology matures.'

Rumours

Under Shin's management, Samsung has overtaken Nokia as the world's largest phone manufacturer by shipments, selling 300 million handsets in 2011.

The comments were in response to +Plastic Electronics magazine asking Samsung to confirm the recent reports that it will be producing smartphone/handheld electronic device products featuring flexible OLED display technology in 2013.

Whether rumours are true or not, the speculation does Samsung no harm. The company has invested heavily in bringing risky new display technology, in the form of AMOLED on glass, to the mass market. The company now has its hands full ensuring production meets demand for its Super AMOLED screens used mainly in its own products, including the Galaxy S3 smart phone.

There is also the ongoing challenge of scaling up AMOLED displays onto bigger glass substrate sizes to open up and supply new markets for the technology. This is no easy task and teething problems could continue to beset developers competing for a slice of the large-size display market well into next year. Trying to commercialise flexible displays, while mastering AMOLED production on larger pieces of glass, all for a 2013 launch, may be stretching efforts a bit too far, even for Samsung.

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