AMOLED shortage threatens Android supply lines

An AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode) shortage is threatening to “slow” the Android-Allied offensive against Apple’s iPhone and its entrenched AMLCD technology.

“Starting with the Nexus One introduced in January, Android-based smart phones have aggressively adopted high-quality AMOLED displays as a competitive differentiator against the advanced-technology AMLCD screen used in the iPhone,” iSuppli principal analyst Vinita Jakhanwal told TG Daily in an e-mailed statement.

”However, rising demand – combined with a limited supply base – has led to the constrained availability of AMOLEDs.”

According to Jakhanwal, AMOLEDs offer “a number of advantages” compared to AMLCDs.

“First, AMOLEDs use no backlights, so they offer potential power-savings benefits compared to AMLCDs, a particular advantage in battery-powered smartphones.

“Second, the elimination of backlights also makes AMOLEDs very thin relative to AMLCDs.

“Finally, AMLCDs offer superior performance, with better fast motion display and a richer color gamut compared to AMOLEDs.”

Jakhanwal also noted that Samsung and LG currently represented the “only sources” for AMOLED panels.

“[So], to increase supply, Samsung is heavily investing in AMOLED and plans to have an additional Gen 5.5 fab up and running at the end of 2011. [And] LG is starting a new Gen 4.5 fab that will manufacture both LTPS and AMOLED panels.

“[Clearly], the market is becoming highly competitive with a perceptible emphasis on distinctive features and improved performance. [As such], AMOLED may offer manufacturers crucial and much needed choices with which they can achieve product differentiation.”