The best hope for a future price drop on OLED TVs has just arrived, in the promise of a price battle. Chinese screen maker BOE has announced that it is ready to launch panels for the home market, starting with a 95-inch 8K OLED TV with 120Hz refresh rate… panels starting at 55 inches all the way up to 95 inches.
According to the Korean newspaper Biz Chosun (via FlatpanelsHD (opens in new tab)), BOE’s new OLED offerings are expected to go into production soon, with estimated sales of around 300,000 units this year – a figure that equates to more than 5% of the current OLED TV panel market.
BOE currently produces small and mid-range OLED displays and is said to be in line to provide displays using the technology for Apple’s next wave of iPads and MacBooks.
Until now, the manufacture of OLED panels for TVs has been effectively dominated only by LG Display, which sells its panels to several large companies including Sony, Vizio and Panasonic (as well as LG Electronics, which makes finished TV sets such as LG C2).
LG Display’s Korean rival Samsung Display has just started producing its own OLED TV variant called QD-OLED – but this technology is so sophisticated that it’s not doing anything to bring down the prices of regular OLED TVs.
Emerging Chinese manufacturers producing LCD screens at greatly reduced manufacturing costs have forced LG Display and Samsung Display to focus on manufacturing premium OLED panels in recent times, with the latter brand expected to halt production of its LCD panels later this year. month. (This won’t affect Samsung’s TVs, which will still be mostly LCD – it’s just that these panels won’t be manufactured by Samsung itself.)
The emergence of a new player in the OLED panel market would likely trigger a similar price war that could see more low-end TVs with the technology hitting shelves as LG and BOE battle over the business of companies as big as Sony.
Analysis: A new OLED player could mean welcome changes for TV buyers
For the better part of a decade, the LG Display has been the only game in town when it comes to OLED panel manufacturing.
In this period, the Korean company has taken great strides to improve picture quality and lower the asking price for TVs with the technology, making large OLED TVs a true mass market device.
However, the emergence of a genuine manufacturing competitor – especially one that looks likely to lower LG’s price if it’s going to enter LG’s business – is likely to drive down the prices demanded for panels, which could mean lower prices for consumers. It will also likely encourage further OLED improvements as competition between the two companies’ offerings heats up.
As an Apple component supplier, BOE has a lot of experience in large-scale component production.
The big question is whether it can deliver the same kind of image quality and manufacturing yield that LG has achieved – OLED panels are notoriously difficult to produce efficiently. Let’s hope so, because a price war is the best thing that could happen to cash-strapped movie lovers battling rising cost of living elsewhere.