Samsung's Strategic Deployment of Flexible AMOLED Displays and Corresponding Key Components
June 29, 2012 / Chung-Yu Yang
9 Page, Topical Report
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Samsung kicked off AMOLED display production in 2007, becoming the world's first maker to mass produce AMOLED panels later on. Samsung first demonstrated 6.5" flexible AMOLED display prototypes at FPD International 2008 and at the end of 2011, the company announced that it would begin volume production of flexible AMOLED displays in mid 2012 or early 2013. This report profiles Samsung's advancement and deployment of flexible display technology and offers insight into Samsung's strategies to secure its competitive advantages and at the same time widen the gap with its counterparts.
  •  Table of Contents
  •  List of Topics
  •  List of Figures

Looking at technology advancement of Samsung in terms of flexible displays, it can be seen that Samsung's key components for used in flexible AMOLED panels can be commercialized or are near commercialization. As regards process technology, advancement in AMOLED technology helps Samsung one step closer to the commercialization of flexible AMOLED displays.

Should Samsung plan to mass produce flexible AMOLED displays in the short run, Samsung will be most likely to fabricate LTPS (Low Temperature Poly Silicon) TFT structure, ITO transparent electrodes, and OLED components on PI substrates with indirect process and use thin-film encapsulation technology for AMOLED packaging. Sine LTPS TFT and ITO (Indium Tin Oxide) materials are relatively less flexible, it is expected that the prototype can only be bent to a certain angle only, addressing more on its unbreakable property at the initial phase.

Figure 2

Samsung's Flexible AMOLED Key Technology Development Roadmap

Source: MIC, May 2012


Establishing a Flexible Display Industry Value Chain as Samsung's Key Strategy Deployment

Should Samsung begin flexible AMOLED volume production in the second half of 2012 as planned, its technology development of flexible displays will be one to two years more advanced than any other display makers. Looking at Samsung's flexible AMOLED technology development, it can be seen that the materials and fabrication processes used for plastic substrate-based and glass substrate-based AMOLED differ considerably, and two separate industry chains are thus developed. Therefore, it seems only some makers with rich resources are able to accelerate their pace from glass substrate-based AMOLED to plastic substrate-based AMOLED panels leveraging their experiences in AMOLED R&D. Instead of trying to catching up, for some other makers which cannot afford investments in large-scale AMOLED production lines and equipment, they may consider to skip glass substrate-based AMOLED technology currently under development and directly focus on the development of plastic substrate-based AMOLED process and corresponding materials and equipment. This could help enhance their competitive advantages in the next generation display technology. For technology developers who normally are lack of funds, they may accumulate their proprietary technologies or patents to increase their bargaining power for funding.

Even though the Samsung is able to provide abundant resources and capital supply, when engaging in a new business, Samsung still has to rely on strategic deployment so as to reduce risks and barriers to entry and leverage the cutting-edge material technology from Japan to shorten time-to-market. For makers with considerably less resources and R&D capabilities, other than forming alliance with others, some may rely on the government support or counting on major makers to initiate the integration of flexible display resources in order to rapidly set foot in the flexible display industry and take a big bite of market share. Moreover, Samsung's strategic business model such as joint investment and joint development for flexible AMOLED supply chain should shed a light for other companies who are also interested in this niche.

AMOLED Technology Puts Samsung at Advantage in Flexible Display Development

It is observed that Samsung's AMOLED technology capabilities have put the company at an advantage in the development of flexible AMOLED. Looking at other makers such as Taiwanese makers, even though they are lagging behind Samsung in AMOLED development, they have competitiveness in flexible display technology such that their market share and technology development in EPD (E-Paper Display) are ahead of others. .

Flexible LCD (Liquid Crystal Display), flexible EPD, and flexible AMOLED are all categorized as flexible displays. EPD displays have simple structure and are cost effective and suitable for use in electronic components with lower specifications. It is thus less difficult for makers to mass produce EPD displays. However, as regards flexible display applications, for a long time, flexible EPD has gained relatively less attention compared to flexible AMOLED largely due to several technology challenges. The existing EPD display technology is able to show just static black and white images and thus represent limited opportunities so far.

It can be seen that flexible displays are unable to deliver the same quality as glass substrate displays at the initial phase. Furthermore, it is projected that flexible displays will face cost and application problems such as yields and economies of scale in production; as a result, there is still room for improvement for flexible displays to be next generation display technology to replace glass substrate-based displays. Therefore, the move to mass produce flexible displays is to make a breakthrough for flexible displays since flexible displays can bring and create more diverse applications then glass substrate-based displays.

In the future, as consumers are likely to have higher expectations from flexible displays in terms of user experience, Samsung's counterparts should pinpoint the niche created by flexible EPD technology, build an industry chain of flexible electronic products, and accumulate R&D and manufacturing experiences. Moreover, should they resolve challenges in display specifications to make multiple-color EPD displays a reality and further become mainstream products, EPD displays will be likely to play a key role in the next generation flexible display industry in the future.


Glossary of Terms



Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode



Carbon Nanotube






E-Paper Display



Fiber Reinforced Plastic



Indium Tin Oxide



Liquid Crystal Display



Laser-Induced Thermal Imaging



Low Temperature Poly Silicon



Organic Light Emitting Diode






Thin Film Transistor

List of Companies

Cheil Industries








Samsung Electronics


SMD (Samsung Mobile Display)


Sumitomo Bakelite


UBE Industries







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