IHS Markit puts this down to a surge in demand from smartphone manufacturers who are expected to bring out more curved active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) displays. Flexible displays are expected to comprise 3.8 percent of total display unit shipments in 2017.
Flexible display shipments through 2023 in millions of units. Source: IHS Markit.
China's Vivo and Xiaomi launched their first smartphones with flexible AMOLED displays in 2016, while many other manufacturers have plans to develop foldable or bendable, dual-edge curved smartphone designs. Apple is expected to launch an iPhone in 2017 that has a flexible AMOLED display. Flexible AMOLEDs are expected to comprise 20 percent of total OLED display unit shipments in 2017.
Demand for flexible AMOLED displays has been strong in 2016, according Jerry Kang, principal display research analyst at IHS Markit. However, limited production capacity means that only a few companies had their orders met in quantity. Those tight supply conditions are expected to ease in 2017 as Samsung Display and LG Display start operating factories to increase supply capacity for flexible displays.
Smartphones took up 76 percent of the total flexible display supply in 2016. Wearables were another major application. Applications such as tablet PCs, near-eye virtual reality devices, automotive monitors and OLED TVs, are not expected to be significant until 2023.
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