Samsung Display is ending direct production of LCD panels in South Korea and China by the end of this year, according to a report by the global news agency Reuters.
The report suggests the electronics giant will instead focus production efforts on displays that use quantum dots technology – which in simple terms is the basis for a filter on displays that increases brightness and color volume.
Samsung’s gorgeous QLED displays (got one) are LCDs with a quantum dots layer, and there is lots of R&D work going on to add quantum dots to OLED displays, which would boost their brightness and color volume as well.
“We will supply ordered LCDs to our customers by the end of this year without any issues,” the company (Samsung) said in a statement.
The investment for the next five years will be focused on converting one of its South Korean LCD lines into a facility to mass produce more advanced “quantum dot” screens.
The company runs two LCD production lines at factories in South Korea and two LCD-only factories in China.
Samsung has not yet decided on the future operation of its factories in China, said the spokeswoman.
Samsung Display’s cross-town rival LG Display Co Ltd said earlier this year that it will halt domestic production of LCD TV panels by the end of 2020.
This is happening, maybe not entirely but heavily, because Chinese government-backed manufacturers like BOE have greatly upped production capacity for LCD TVs, driving prices and margins down for consumer and professional display products.
Samsung is also putting more focus on direct view LED – with well-respected indoor and outdoor products, and forays into premium displays like The Wall series.
Taiwan tech publication DigiTimes also has a report up about Samsung’s LCD plans:
Samsung Display reportedly plans to shut down ahead of schedule four of its LCD panel production lines as early as in the third quarter of 2020, as the vendor is looking to accelerate its exit from the LCD segment, according to industry sources.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is apparently an impetus pushing Samsung Display to phase out its LCD panel production, as the crisis has wrecked havoc on the global economy, slowing down business activities and halting sports events such as the Tokyo Olympics 2020, which is seriously undercutting demand for TVs and adding downward pressure on panel prices, said the sources.
Samsung Display also plans to keep production at its 8.5G LCD fab in Suzhou, China in the meantime, while overhauling its L7-2 fab for production of POLED panels and its L8 fab for QD-OLED panels, indicated the sources.
The Korean panel maker is also looking to halt the operations of the Suzhou 8.5G line by the third quarter of 2022 and is currently in talks to sell the LCD panel plant to Chinese panel makers, said the sources, adding that the completion of a deal will mark Samsung Display ‘s exit from the LCD TV panel market.
The sources said that they believe LG Display will follow in the step of Samsung Display to accelerate its withdrawal from the LCD panel market.
Meanwhile, TV panel prices, which have been trending upward recently along with reduced production caused by the pandemic, are expected to stay flat in April, as capacity resumption of most panel plants in China is expected to reach over 90% in the month, while TV brands are likely to slow down their panel purchases amid pandemic-induced uncertainty, commented the sources.
Presumably, while Samsung may not be directly manufacturing LCD, the industry will still be able to buy Samsung LCD displays – just manufactured, as some will be already, by other companies in China and Taiwan.
I only observe and have no direct involvement in how the display giants operate, but from my perch in the bleachers, it seems to make sense to get out of producing a commodity product, when you are up against Chinese manufacturers who can make and sell them for less because of government subsidies and lower labor costs.
I really don’t see direct view LED taking the place of single LCD displays, but much of the future of signage is in LED that fills entire walls and other surfaces, inside and outside.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.