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The AMOLED technology is rapidly gaining acceptance in the smartphone and wearable device markets. In addition to having a wide color gamut, AMOLED panels expand the range of design options for displays because they can be made on substrates that are light, thin and flexible. On the other hand, the adoption of AMOLED in the tablet market has been tepid even though tablets also have similar weight and thickness requirements as other mobile devices. The penetration rate of AMOLED-equipped products in the total tablet shipments worldwide for 2015 was 2.5%, according to the latest research by WitsView, a division of TrendForce. Manufacturers of AMOLED panels are expected to continue prioritize their capacity utilization in favor of making displays for smartphones and VR devices. Furthermore, the production cost of AMOLED panels for the tablet application is unlikely to go down anytime soon. Hence, WitsView forecasts that the penetrate rate of AMOLED products in annual global tablet shipments over the next five years will linger around 2~4%.
Samsung and Lenovo are currently the only consumer electronics brands that are working on integrating AMOLED into their tablets. Samsung has always been the main proponent of tablets with AMOLED screens, but the declining tablet demand has forced the South Korean vendor to reduce its number of AMOLED tablet models from last year’s four (i.e. sized 8, 8.4, 9.7 and 10.5 inches) to this year’s three (i.e. sized 8, 9.7 and 12 inches). WitsView furthermore projects that Samsung will ship 3.5 million units of AMOLED tablets in 2016, down 17% from the prior year’s figure of 4.2 million.
Lenovo also has plans to use AMOLED panels to differentiate its products, and its concept foldable tablet that was revealed this June garnered a lot of attention on the market. Still, Lenovo has yet to offer a production timetable for its foldable tablet, which is likely to remain as a concept for a while due to the lack of technological resources and AMOLED panel supply.
WitsView’s data finds that the global production capacity of small- and mid-size AMOLED panels by area totaled 5.07 million square meters in 2015. With the display industry continuing to ramp up investments in this technology, the small- and mid-size AMOLED panel capacity will increase at a CAGR of 30% during the 2015~2019 period. However, much of this capacity will be allocated to smartphones, VR devices and other wearable products. This presents a challenge to the development of AMOLED tablets. Nonetheless, WitsView expects flexible AMOLED panels to help expand the form-factor options for tablets. Once the foldable screen becomes a feature in mainstream tablet products (those sized 8~10 inches), device vendors will also begin incorporating flexible AMOLED panels into larger and more popular form factors, such as 2-in-1 PCs ranging from 12 to 14 inches. On the whole, this revolutionary breakthrough in the display technology has the potential to reinvigorate the weakening tablet sales