Taipei, April 19 (CNA) AU Optronics Corp. (AUO), the world's No. 4 flat panel maker, said Thursday it will catch up with its South Korean competitors in the field of active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) technology in the next two years.
The Taiwanese firm's AMOLED technology, which allows for thinner and brighter panels than TFT-LCD technology, is still trailing behind its South Korean rivals but will improve in terms of yield rate and cost down strategy, said T.K. Wu, vice president and general manager of AUO's Consumer Product Display Business Group.
"We expect to catch up with them (the South Koreans). Even if we cannot surpass their technology within two years, we will reach a level very close to them," he said at the DisplaySearch Taiwan Flat Panel Display Conference in Taipei.
AUO assembled a research team for the AMOLED technology in 2000 and launched the world's first AMOLED product for mobile phones in 2006, Wu said.
The company has put a lot of resources into the field in the past two decades and has become more aggressive since 2009, investing NT$10 billion (US$339 million) in the mass production of AMOLED panels, he said.
Wu's remarks came a day after Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun reported that Sony Corp. and AUO were in talks on a possible partnership in OLED TV production that could include setting up a flat screen company with AUO.
Sony expects the joint venture to take advantage of its OLED TV technology and the Taiwanese firm's efficient production process to take on the strong competition from Samsung Electronics Co. of South Korea, according to the newspaper.
AUO and Sony both declined to comment on the report on Wednesday.
David Hsieh, vice president of DisplaySearch in charge of the Greater China market, said at the conference that AMOLED panels are 50-70 percent more expensive than mainstream TFT-LCD panels.
The price of small-sized AMOLED panels used in mobile phones will likely drop to a similar level to the TFT-LCD panels in the next two years, while the cost of larger AMOLED panels used in TVs may remain high due to a lack of economic scale, he said.
DisplaySearch estimated that worldwide shipments of AMOLED TVs will amount to 684,000 units in 2013 and 2.95 million units in 2014, accounting for only 0.3 percent and 1.1 percent of the total TV shipments, respectively.
On the other hand, worldwide shipments of AMOLED mobile handset displays are expected to increase sequentially by 14 percent in the first quarter of this year and by 80 percent compared with the same time a year ago, according to a report by research firm IHS iSuppli.
Samsung Mobile Display Co. currently drives the AMOLED market because it has the largest manufacturing capacity, while AUO is making particularly strong progress with likely orders from handset manufacturers HTC Corp. and Sony, the report said.
AUO is expected to start shipping small volumes of AMOLED displays starting in the second quarter, and the company is apparently planning for AMOLED production at a sixth-generation fabrication, the report said.
(By Jeffrey Wu)