A new report from IHS predicts that the global market for flexible OLED displays will more than quadruple by 2014, reaching an unprecedented $95 million. The report, titled “In-depth analysis for Technical Trends of Flexible OLED”, also noted that current flexible displays are rudimentary and will take some time to fully evolve.
Currently, the technology is confined to OLED screens which are made of materials that naturally emit light when excited by electricity; however, they lack the same efficiency and power-saving capabilities of modern LED displays. As a result, the natural progression of these displays should eventually involve tapping into liquid-crystal display (LCD), LED and electronic paper (e-paper) technology.
At this time, Samsung has emerged as the leading player in the flexible display market. They first unveiled their Youm line of bendable OLED offerings at CES in January, and later announced that their first flexible OLED display will hit store shelves by the second half of 2013.
Despite the initial buzz, consumers shouldn’t get too excited about these first-generation devices. The initial product will make use of a non-glass substrate that will combine both superior thinness and ruggedness. Unfortunately, these early iterations will be flat and unable to bend or roll.
As a result, truly flexible OLED displays won’t be available until probably another three years or so, likely in 2016. This timeline would explain why the upcoming smartwatch from Samsung, dubbed the Galaxy Gear, won’t be the flexible computerized bracelet that many of us had envisioned.
In putting these rumors to rest, Samsung executive Lee Young-hee, explained, “The Gear won’t have a flexible display. The new device will enhance and enrich the current smart mobile experience in many ways. It will lead a new trend in smart mobile communications. We are confident that the Gear will add meaningful momentum to the mobile industry.”