When will microLED reach prime time? Yole's analysis

March 22, 2017 //By Julien Happich
When will microLED reach prime time? Yole's analysis
Many large companies and startups are currently working on microLED technologies for display applications: from LED makers such as Epistar, Nichia or Osram to display makers like AUO, BOE or CSOT and OEMs such as Apple or Facebook/Oculus.

“Enabling large scale microLED displays manufacturing requires to bring together three major disparate know-how and supply chain bricks including LED manufacturing, display manufacturing and technology transfer & assembly”, asserts Dr Eric Virey, Senior Technology & Market Analyst at Yole Développement (Yole).

According to the market research firm, the microLED displays supply chain is still under construction with participants having to find the way to collaborate together and define the most efficient manufacturing approach.
“Even if the remaining technology roadblocks are removed, no company beside Apple and its startup Luxvue acquired in 2014 currently appear to have the positioning and leverage to enable the supply chain,” comments Yole’s expert. So what could happen?

If successful, microLED displays could have a profound impact on both the LED and display supply chains, The supply chain is complex and lengthy compared with that of traditional displays. Each process is critical and managing every aspect effectively will be challenging.

“No single player can solve all the issues and it seems unlikely that any will fully vertically integrate”, says Virey. According to the analyst, small companies could bring together the different technologies to serve the AR/MR market, but for high volume consumer applications such as mobiles or TVs, only a strong push from a leading OEM can enable a supply chain. In that respect, Apple has a unique market position and appears to be the most likely candidate with enough leverage and financial strength to bring all the partners together. Other candidates including Oculus for example, have also invested in microLEDs for AR/MR applications, but what will be the next step?

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