Apple Is Trying to Make its Own Displays

It looks like Apple is already preparing to move on from OLED, with reports this week indicating that the company is already working on developing MicroLED screens.

The report has also suggested that Apple's MicroLED technology displays would use newer light-emitting compounds that make them brighter, thinner, and less power-intense than the current OLED displays.

However, Apple's effort could hurt major display suppliers like Sharp, Samsung, Japan Display LG Display and Universal Display (developer of OLED technology).

Apple has about 300 engineers working now for developing microLED screens and, of course, it will not produce its own screens if the technology is good enough to be implemented in commercial products. Its stock has come under pressure in recent weeks amid reports that Apple has cut production of the iPhone X, its first OLED-screen smartphone.

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The screens are far more hard to produce than OLED displays, to the extent that Apple almost scrapped the project 12 months ago. Last year, we saw the iPhone X delay a little due to some production issues. The intellectual property for this process was acquired when the company purchased LED display making startup, LuxVue in 2014.

Apple has a secret plant in Silicon Valley where it has been making its now microLED display panels. Another report from Nikkei a year ago suggested that the firm was working on developing microLED tech for its Apple Watch at a facility in Taiwan. Japan Display dropped as much as 4.4 percent, Sharp tumbled as much as 3.3 percent and Samsung slid 1.4 percent. This news has stirred quite a storm in the Display Market leaving Samsung, LG to companies like Synaptics quite anxious.

A MicroLED screen on an iPhone or an iPad is still a long ways away. However, the company never developed its own displays for devices they have launched till now. According to Bloomberg, several of these suppliers suffered in the Asian markets after Apple's development plans were reported. Executives of Apple have given a go-ahead to the program for the next two years with the aim of seeing MIcroLED screens in products. MicroLEDs comprise millions of discrete pixels, on the basis of screen size. Each of these tiny LEDs must be individually created and calibrated.

Apple's research facility in Santa Clara has been operating in secret for a few years now, but progress has been slow.

  • Douglas Reid