TrendForce’s latest report, “AMOLED Technology and Market Status”, reveals that OLED, the next generation of digital displays, has not only taken hold of the smartphone market but is also beginning to make its move into other applications. Organic OLED materials are the core of the industry supply chain, accounting for 23% of the cost of making smartphone panels. An increasing penetration rate has allowed the global value of OLED materials to be estimated at US$2.23 billion in 2022, with a YoY growth rate of 30%. Production values are expected to reach US$3 billion by 2025, owing to the support of manufacturers.
OLED light-emitting components are either based on polymers or small-molecule materials. Polymers have poor solubility in organic solvents, which results in impure color and poor film uniformity. However, when combined with printing technology, the high aperture ratio can fit more materials and compensate for the poor lifespan and efficiency of polymers. Small-molecule materials have purer color and exhibit higher brightness, which can be applied to larger-generation OLED production. However, they are currently limited to developing FMM and vapor deposition machines.
OLED production begins with synthesizing intermediates from raw monomers. Then, the intermediates are processed to become precursors before finally being sublimated and purified into terminal OLED materials. When raw monomers are synthesized chemically into intermediates, there’s a gross margin of about 10–20%. These are mainly supplied by Chinese manufacturing companies such as Jilin OLED Material, Ruilian New Materials, Aglaia Tech, and Shenzhen Mason. Terminal materials are produced via sublimation and purification and their structure will not change through subsequent production. Therefore, the chemical structure, processes, and formulas are essential to trade secrets for terminal material manufacturers. The purity of these materials after sublimation is expected to be very high, meaning that technological barriers are also very high, allowing for gross margins as high as 60–70%. The technology and patents are concentrated within a few foreign manufacturers. However, the booming market has led to an influx of upstream manufacturers, gradually breaking down past technological barriers. Some Chinese manufacturers have been able to achieve mass production of precursors and terminal materials, and are now actively competing in the supply chain and driving growth.
Apart from two electrodes, the structure of an OLED component consists of organic light-emitting materials, including the main host (light-emitting layer), guest material (dopant), and functional layers (with electron or hole transport properties). DuPont and LG Chemical are the major manufacturers of red OLEDs, while Samsung DSI and Merck mostly produce green OLEDs. UDC has a monopoly on red and green phosphorescent dopant materials due to patent barriers. Blue light-emitting materials used to be primarily supplied by Idemitsu Kosan and Merck. Recently, LG’s next generation OLED evo TV uses deuterium-based blue emitter materials—supplied by DuPont and LG Chemical—to improve blue light-emitting efficiency. Its precursors are supplied by Ruilian New Materials.
Besides established manufacturers like Tokuyama, Idemitsu Kosan, and LG, Chinese manufacturers are also beginning to enter into the market to supply functional layers, such as Laite’s Red Prime. Samsung and UDC are planning to commercialize blue phosphorescent materials in 2024 in order to address the lifetime issues of blue OLEDs. Many new technologies, such as South Korean materials manufacturer, Lordin’s, patented Zero Radius Intra-Molecular Energy Transfer (ZRIET) rely on the efficiency of energy transfer between the main host and dopant, which is highly dependent on the distance between them. When that distance approaches zero, the quantum efficiencies of the molecules will not be affected at all. Therefore, efficiency can be improved by controlling the speed of energy transfer between the internal molecules of the material. Lordin has synthesized a material that maintains the respective characteristics of the main and dopant materials as well as a high energy transfer rate, which is expected to produce OLEDs that will be four times more efficient.
TrendForce believes the next stage of mobile terminal products will shift from folding smartphones to smart wearables, IT, and automotive applications, which will place more stringent demand on OLED components. The layout of panel manufacturers is becoming clearer thanks to brand endorsements. LG, Samsung, and BOE are all aggressively competing for priority for the Tokki G8.7 evaporation machine to gain an advantage in expanding application. The accelerated commercialization of blue phosphorescent materials and more innovative technologies, such as Samsung’s vertical evaporation developed with ULVAC, eLeap lithography, and printing processes to improve the aperture ratio will help push the expansion of OLEDs in the display industry. Meanwhile, costs will become more competitive as more Chinese manufacturers enter the market.
TrendForce’s research shows that material shortages, logistical delays, and relief subsidies for the American people not only supported global TV panel shipments in 1H21, but also drove an extended rise in quotations. However, as end product inventory climbed, stocking momentum fell rapidly in 2H21, not only inducing a sluggish peak season, but also bringing about a 1H22:2H22 shipment ratio that deviated from historical precedent. Shipment volume was not the only performance statistic to fluctuate in 2021. Originally planned factory closures were also delayed due to market demand, again transforming the entire industry landscape.
Looking forward to 2022, the global display production capacity of large generational fabs in 2022 will continue to grow through OLED production capacity generated by Korean panel manufacturers, the extension of LCD production, and continuing injection of maximum production capacity into the market from certain LCD production lines originating from panel manufacturers in other regions. Thus, overall TV panel supply is expected to spike dramatically. Although demand in emerging markets has recovered, TV panel quotations are also more prone to manipulation by branded panel companies than in 2021. A certain amount of momentum is expected in the end market for the stocking of TV panels. However, considering continually rising shipping and logistics costs, the unresolved global inflation issue, and life gradually returning to normal will inhibit the shipment performance of TV sets, demand for panels will also see an impact.
Therefore, after considering a number of factors, TrendForce expects global TV panel shipments to reach 281 million units in 2022, with an annual growth rate of 4.3%. As panel makers continue to implement a strategy of increasing panel size and overall shipments increase, positive growth is expected in size of shipped area.
The current global Gen5 and above large generational fab LCD panel supply and demand model shows that the growth rate of demand area cannot keep up with the growth rate of supply area and the shortfall between supply and demand in 2022 will be larger than that in 2021, which also suggests that panel manufacturers will meet tougher challenges in 2022. It is worth mentioning that there are still several key factors to be observed in 2022. For example, the closing schedule of LCD production lines at Korean panel factories, the adjustment of TV and IT panel capacity allocation, and the impact of the pandemic and war on whole device demand and component supply will all be key indicators of display industry trends leading into 2022.
（Image credit: Samsung）
TV shipment performance in 2022 will return to a pre-pandemic cycle but the Russian-Ukrainian war has indirectly led to rising inflation. With consumer spending unchanged, expenditures on non-essentials are bound to feel the squeeze. Russia accounts for 82% of TV shipments in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) region and Ukraine also maintains a 12% market share. As the war drags on, the region will bleed 1.5 to 2 million TV sets in the short term, and TV shipments may fall by more than 3 million sets in the medium term. Although demand in the CIS region is not positive, Southeast Asia and emerging markets were severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, deferring a portion of demand. Overall, TV shipments in 2022 will adjust downward to 215 million units, or 2.4% YoY and a decrease of 0.7% from the previous 2022 forecast.
According to TrendForce statistics, TV shipments in the CIS region account for 4% of the global total, of which 60% consists of 32-inch and 43-inch models. The two major TV brands, Samsung and LG, account for nearly 50% of the combined market in the CIS region. At present, due to factors such as geopolitics and economic sanctions, shipments to Russian factories for back-end TV assembly have been halted and Samsung has gone one step further by halting sales.
Samsung and LGE account for more than 50% of CIS region market share, hardest hit by the Russian-Ukrainian war
Russian demand for TV sets falls at 6-7 million units per year. Due to high tariffs, TV giants Samsung and LGE have been encouraged to set up TV assembly plants in Russia which, not only reduce tariff costs, but also enjoy the benefits of zero-tariff exports to Ukraine.
Samsung and LGE originally sent imports from South Korea to Russia in the form of CKD (Complete knock down) in order to assemble TV sets in local factories and enjoy duty-free benefits. However, the war has suspended all shipments to Russia.
It is worth mentioning, as damage has been dealt to the two Korean brands, Chinese brand Haier has chosen to accelerate its deployment in the Russian market. Haier is expected to successfully occupy third place in TV sales in the CIS region with a market share of 11% in 2022. In 2021 Haier’s shipments in the CIS region reached 800,000 units. In 2022, it has an opportunity to cannibalize lost market share from Korean brands with a shipment target of one million units. Judging from the TV production capacity of local factories, volume maxes out at 2 million units. Haier is forecast to become the biggest winner of the Russian-Ukrainian war.
Soaring shipping costs portend possible further downgrade of 2022 TV shipments
Due to factors such as reduced shipments and inventory control, the two Korean brands have gradually adjusted their purchase volume of TV panels in the near term, relegating 32- and 43-inch TV panels, units that had an opportunity to increase in price in April 2022, to a downward price trend again. Due to falling demand for TVs and IT, concerns over panel overcapacity are overwhelming and some panel manufacturers have decided to begin gradual capacity adjustment in April 2022.
Of the challenges plaguing the TV market in 2022, in addition to the existing problem of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russian-Ukrainian war and rising global inflation also add variables to demand. In addition, cargo container shortages and port congestion increased shipping costs significantly in 2021, indirectly inflating the cost of TV sets with costs rising as TV sizes grow. Even though current panel pricing has dropped by 30% to 40% compared with its high point in 2021, no expected reduction in freight costs in 2022 will inevitably affect the scale of branded promotions and stocking during the peak season of overseas markets in 2H22. Therefore, there is still room for TV shipments in 2022 to be revised downward.
（Image credit: iStock）
The shipment performance of TV brands in 1H21 benefited from COVID-19 economic relief funds in the U.S., driving a continuing boom in North American shipments, according to TrendForce’s investigations. At the same time, TV brands continued to replenish panel inventories, pushing up panel prices. As the pandemic slowed down in Europe and the United States in 2H21, life returned to normal and pandemic stimulus no longer applied, challenging demand levels. In addition, rising raw material and freight prices pushed up whole device cost, forcing TV brands to pass costs onto retail pricing. Even though TV brands staked their hopes on the two major annual yearend sales promotion events of Singles Day in China (the biggest shopping day of the year globally, online and IRL) and Black Friday, sales performance was poor due to high costs leading to a slump in end-user demand and eventually causing TV shipments to decline by 3.2% annually to 210 million units in 2021.
TrendForce further indicates that panel supply and overall production capacity will be ample in 2022, dispelling severe TV panel price fluctuations while ushering in steady and moderate fluctuations as a replacement. After a sharp revision in TV panel prices in the 2H21, this year’s panel pricing is more advantageous to the planning of TV brands. In addition, the severe impact of the pandemic in Southeast Asia and emerging markets and high panel prices last year caused TV brands to reduce the scale of small-sized 23.6-inch, 32-inch, and 43-inch products, forcing a deferral of demand. In 2022, the pricing of small-sized panels will be close to panel manufacturers’ cash cost which will help TV brands recapture a larger proportion of small-sized panel shipments. The proportion of shipments below 39-inch will remain at 25%, medium-sized 40~59-inch panels will remain at 55%, and large-sized panels above 60-inch will remain the focus of international brands with market share expected to rise to 20%. Benefiting from the deferral of small-sized panel demand, TV shipments in 2022 will grow by 3.4% to 217 million units.
OLED TV growth to slow down in 2022, annual growth rate to settle at 27%
In 2021, OLED TVs benefited from soaring LCD prices in the previous two years. This was also the case with 55-inch 4K O/C products. The price difference between the two has narrowed from a multiple of 4.7 in early 2020 to 1.8 in mid-2021, thereby incentivizing more TV brands to switch to producing OLED TVs when LCD panel supply is limited and driving OLED TV shipments to 6.7 million units in 2021, or 70% growth YoY. Although Samsung Electronics intends to join the white OLED camp and simultaneously launch QD OLED TVs this year, the continuing falling pricing of LCD panels and the price of OLED TV panels (subject to LG Display’s strategy of increasing pricing as opposed to dropping them) may disrupt Samsung Electronics’ rollout of OLED TVs. If Samsung Electronics fails to launch spring OLED TV models, its original shipment target of 1.5 million units will inevitably be affected. However, whether it launches OLED TV models in spring or summer, Samsung Electronics will take advantage of its brand and channel advantages irrespective of other considerations to take the OLED TV market by storm and aim for a market share of 15%.
Annual growth rate of Mini LED TVs doubled, shipments push towards 4.5 million units
TCL has opened up new horizons for TV products after releasing its first Mini LED TV in 2020. In 2021, Samsung Electronics launched a series of 50-85-inch mid/high-end 4K and flagship 55-85-inch 8K Mini LED models, with shipments exceeding one million units in the first year, reaching 1.5 million units, and boosting overall Mini LED TV shipments in 2021 to 2.1 million units. In addition to Samsung Electronics and TCL continuing to utilize Mini LED in 2022, more TV brands will also join the fray. Overall Mini LED TV shipments will race towards 4.5 million units. SONY showed its 8K 85-inch and 75-inch TVs for the first time at CES at the beginning of the year. Sony’s flagship 4K 85-inch, 75-inch, and 65-inch models were the most notable at CES and Sony will join Samsung and LG Electronics as another international brand marketing OLED and Mini LED TVs, intensifying competition in the high-end TV market.
The recent surges of COVID-19 cases in India, Vietnam, and other Southeast Asian countries have adversely affected the global smartphone market in terms of production and demand, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. The global smartphone production for 2Q21 fell by 11% QoQ to a total of 307 million units. However, a YoY comparison shows an increase of around 10% for the quarter. The global production for 1H21 came to a total of 652 million units, translating to a growth rate of almost 18% compared with 1H20, when the pandemic was in the initial phase.
While fourth-ranked Apple undergoes a transition period between old and new models, and Samsung experiences a slight dip in market share, smartphone brands have improved their respective product specifications
Samsung’s smartphone production for 2Q21 reached 58.5 million units, which was the highest among all smartphone brands yet represented a 23.5% QoQ decrease. Since India and Vietnam account for the majority of its smartphone production capacity, the severe COVID-19 outbreaks in both countries during 2Q21 had a significant impact on production volume. This year, Samsung will remain as the top smartphone brand by quarterly and annual production. However, it will face increasing difficulty in preserving its steadily shrinking market share in the future. The competition will only intensify as rival brands have become excelled at smartphone design and manufacturing.
OPPO’s smartphone production fell by 6.6% QoQ to 49.5 million units for 2Q21. OPPO’s production figure includes devices from sub-brands Realme and OnePlus. Xiaomi’s smartphone production also came to 49.5 million units for 2Q21, showing a QoQ drop of 2%. Xiaomi’s production figure includes devices from sub-brands Redmi, POCO, and Black Shark. On a YoY basis, OPPO posted a growth rate of 80%, whereas Xiaomi posted a growth rate of almost 70%. The high YoY growth rates were attributed to them capturing some market share abandoned by Huawei and the recovery of China’s smartphone market. Both OPPO and Xiaomi claimed second place in the quarterly ranking. Vivo is another Chinese brand that faces a similar situation. Its smartphone production, which includes devices from sub-brand iQoo, dropped by 8.1% QoQ to 34 million units. Vivo took fifth place in the quarterly ranking. Each of these three Chinese brands has made India its second largest base with respect to production and sales operations. Hence, India’s recent COVID-19 surge affected the production and sales performances of all three brands in 2Q21.
Regarding future plans, all three Chinese brands corrected down their annual production targets at the end of 2Q21 due to the COVID-19 surge in Southeast Asia and the capacity crunch in the foundry market. Lowering the annual production target is going to alleviate the cash flow pressure by preventing the component gaps from widening and the inventory of whole devices from rising. It should be pointed out that OPPO, Xiaomi, and Vivo have been very proactive in developing innovative products in the high-end segment of the smartphone market. The high-end models from these three brands are not able to completely assume the market positions that have been held by the flagship models under Huawei’s P and Mate series. Nonetheless, all three brands have posted strong results in both the domestic and overseas markets. To capture more market share, Xiaomi and OPPO are leveraging their respective sub-brands Redmi and Realme that both offer high performance for price. TrendForce therefore believes that these two brands will be more or less evenly matched in terms of production through this whole year.
Apple’s iPhone production reached its lowest point for the year, and its rank fell to fourth place in 2Q21 because the second quarter is the transition period between last year’s and this year’s iPhone series. The quarterly total iPhone production fell by 22.2% QoQ to around 42 million units. In the aspect of product development, Apple will be releasing four flagship iPhone models this September. The major upgrades that come with the new series are the improved camera and the next-generation A15 processor that is manufactured with TSMC’s 5nm+ process. Other upgrades relate to the optimization of the existing functions. This year’s iPhone line-up can be regarded as an extension of the iPhone 12 series that was released in 2020. With regards to pricing, Apple will be maintaining its proactive approach so as to gain more market share. On the other hand, there is the possibility that Apple’s device production during 2H21 will be affected by the recent spike of COVID-19 cases in Malaysia. Due to the severity of the outbreak situation, shipments of ICs from that country have experienced delays.
With an annual production of 9.4 million units for 2021, LG officially terminated its smartphone manufacturing operations in 2Q21
LG signaled that it will be selling or shutting down its mobile phone unit at the start of this year, and then the company announced that it will formally close the mobile phone unit this April. The development of new smartphone models was also suspended. According to the shutdown plan, the production of LG smartphones has ceased since the end of 2Q21. Altogether, LG produced around 9.4 million units this year and is estimated to account for about 1% of the market share. As for LG’s regional markets, the company was focusing on expanding its presence in the respective mid-range segments of the North American and Latin American markets. With LG ceasing its smartphone production, the abandoned market share in North America will be mostly divided among Android phone brands Samsung, Lenovo, and brands owned by local telecom companies. In Latin America, Lenovo and Xiaomi will likely benefit the most from LG’s exit.
Persistent uncertainties in the pandemic’s impact may continue to affect smartphone production in 2H21
Regarding the global smartphone production for the whole 2021, TrendForce has corrected down its estimation from the previous version of 1.36 billion units with a YoY growth rate 8.5% to the current version of 1.345 billion units with a YoY growth rate of 7.3%. Going forward, one of the two main focuses of observation will be on whether the pandemic will cause a further decline in smartphone sales. For instance, while Europe and the US are currently experiencing a resurgence of infections, Southeast Asian countries have also been unable to subdue the most recent outbreaks. In addition, the pandemic continues to pose a risk to the smartphone supply chain. Take Malaysia for example. It accounts for a significant share of the global production capacity for OSAT (i.e., around 15%). With the country now becoming a COVID-19 hotspot, there have been disruptions in the supply of some key semiconductor components. This, in turn, will negatively affect smartphone production during the second half of this year.
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