LG Display CEO
By Kim Yoo-chul
With a firm belief in its domination of the smartphone and tablet markets, Apple, the U.S.-based consumer electronics firm, has shifted its sights to the tentatively named "Apple TV."
But possibilities are currently very low that the iPhone maker will use an advanced and brighter display that could eventually replace the current liquid crystal display (LCD) screens on its upcoming televisions, sources directly involved with the matter said, Monday.
“It’s true that Apple has keen interest in TV, allowing users to stream music, videos and TV shows via iTunes, though that needs some iPhone and iPad integration, however, Apple is still pessimistic about using OLED displays,” said one source.
“Because Apple is worried over higher costs and technology-related issues linking to large-sized OLED displays, it is groundless that Apple has asked LG Display to supply its OLED screens for its upcoming televisions,” added the source.
OLED allows display manufacturers to produce exceptionally thin TVs without hurting picture quality. But the screen is still not suitable for TVs due to pending issues.
Limited life span, color balance-related issues, an efficiency of blue OLED _ vital for the success of OLED replacing LED and screen burn-in are regarded the headaches, making Apple hesitate to use the displays on Apple TV.
The sources claimed Apple may use picture quality-enhanced and tech-sharpened LCD displays for its televisions, as there are minor differences between OLEDs and LCDs at least to general consumers who don’t have much knowledge of displays.
``Apple has a track record of sticking to proven technology in its products and it’s unlikely that Apple will change the years-long stance for televisions,’’ said another source who was only identified as a high-ranking industry executive.
Not surprisingly, Apple didn’t comment, while LG Display spokesman Frank Lee declined to confirm whether it has held discussions with Apple on the issue.
Apple and LG Display were said to have had discussions about access to a new 55-inch LG OLED panel that will be used in Apple TV after LG chief executive Kwon Young-soo said the Korean display-making giant plans to launch such a display sometime in mid-2012.
LG Display is Apple’s most critical partner. Apple CEO Steve Jobs praised LG’s so-called ``Retina Display,’’ used in iPhones and LG has been in the process of supplying advanced LCD screens for Apple’s upcoming tablet _ the iPad 3.
Woori Investment & Securities, a leading local brokerage, has predicted that Apple’s portion of LG Display’s operating profit for this year will soar to 45.1 percent, while the Apple contribution to LG’s total revenues for 2011 was estimated at 18.3 percent.
Park Young-joo, an analyst from the brokerage, said in a report to clients that LG Display is still the biggest display supplier to Apple.
Apple’s contribution to LG’s annual revenue and operating profit last year was 12 percent and 26.9 percent, respectively, Park said in the report.
Despite Apple’s reluctance to adopt LG OLED TV technology, market analysts and LG officials say that wouldn’t be a further blow to LG Display, which was struggling amid the drastic downturn in the global LCD market.
Because yields of 55-inch OLED will be significantly lower and prices will be astronomical during the ramp-up, only a few technology geeks may pay big premiums to buy the set, according to officials.
“Apple has no interest in using OLED screens on its popular devices. The upcoming iPad 3 will also adopt picture quality-enhanced LCD screens, while the next iPhone will follow suit. Three or four more years will be needed to see OLED-embedded digital devices from Apple,” said a top-level executive from one of Apple’s suppliers.