Japan Display says it is developing a new OLED production technology that will enable higher resolution and higher efficiency OLED displays, and the company is in talks with potential customers regarding a joint investment in producing next-generation OLEDs.
According to JDI’s CEO, the company is using a new manufacturing technology that is different to the evaporation method currently used by OLED makers. It is not clear what is meant by that – it could be an inkjet-printing technology (but achieving high resolution for smartphone displays with inkjet printing is a challenge) or something like OVPD or OVJP – or a new technology developed in-house at JDI.
In any case JDI estimates that it could start mass producing OLEDs using the new technology in early 2022. This would depend on securing the requires funds of course.
It is of course speculated that one of the customers JDI is in talks with is Apple. JDI has historically depended on Apple for around 60% of its revenues – but this is now at risk as Apple’s 2020 smartphone range will likely not include even a single LCD model.
In October 2019 Japan Display announced it has started to produce OLED displays – low volume production for Apple’s wearables. Apple’s Watch Series 5 (its latest generation) features a 324×394 1000-nits always-on LTPO AMOLED display (368×448 on the 44m model). Apple used to rely exclusively on LG Display but it has diversified and is now buying panels from JDI as well.
In August 2017, Japan Display announced a last-resort strategic focus on OLED displays as the Japanese display maker failed to shift to OLED displays in time. Since then JDI was busy trying to raise the funds needed to construct a large-scale OLED fab, raising $430 million from Oasis Management group and one of its customers (likely to be Apple). In February 2020 JDI received around another investment of around $900 million from Ichigo Asset Management.