Since omdia began to study the display panel Market in 2001, the revenue of the small and medium-sized display panel market exceeded US $60billion for the first time in 2021.

Meanwhile, in 2021, AMOLED’s revenue exceeded that of TFT LCD in the small and medium-sized display panel Market for the first time.

It has contributed to the revenue growth of the small and medium-sized display panel market. Apple’s iPhone not only improves the value of the display panel, but also accelerates the pace of flexible AMOLED becoming a market technology leader.

With a revenue of more than $60billion in 2021, AMOLED has become the leading technology in the small and medium-sized display panel Market for the first time

Omdia’s display panel research team has long studied the entire display panel industry, covering such categories as display panel manufacturing technology and components, large-size display panels and supply chains, as well as small and medium-sized display panels and touch interfaces.

For the research on small and medium-sized display panels, we have the shipment volume and revenue data of display panel manufacturers since 2001; These market data have been accumulated for more than 20 years.

From omdia’s “small and medium size display panel market tracking”, especially the “4q21 history” data sheet, we confirmed the actual market data by the end of 2021. The revenue of the small and medium size display panel market was $62.98 billion, exceeding $60billion for the first time. Omdia’s records show that the revenue of this market in 2001 was US $4.94 billion, which means that the revenue of this market has increased by 12.7 times in the past 20 years, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: revenue of small and medium-sized display panels by main technology

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Source: Omdia

In addition, AMOLED’s revenue in the category of small and medium-sized display panels reached US $36.87 billion, accounting for more than 50% of the total amount of the small and medium-sized display panel market, exceeding the total amount of TFT LCD by US $25.22 billion.

In 2021, this is also the first time that AMOLED’s revenue exceeded that of TFT LCD in the small and medium-sized display panel market. AMOLED becomes the leading technology in this market.

The revenue of small and medium-sized display panels increases with the revolution of high-speed mobile phone services

Small and medium-sized display panels are widely used in various applications, such as mobile phones, automobiles, smart watches, digital cameras, portable game consoles and other IT applications. However, the value (revenue) of small and medium-sized display panels has been driven by the revolution of mobile phones and smart phones.

Figure 2 shows the revenue of small and medium-sized display panels in the history, and compares the mobile phone services of different generations.

Figure 2: relationship between revenue of small and medium-sized display panels and mobile phone services of all generations

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Source: Omdia

By 2000, mobile phone services were almost limited to making calls and sending text messages through 1g (Analog) and 2g (GSM) services, while the value of mobile phone display screen was quite low. Characters were displayed through small-size black-and-white passive matrix liquid crystal display panel (pmlcd).

In 2001, 3G (IMT-2000, w-cdma/ line speed 2Mbps) services began, and the service areas spread all over the world. 3G mobile phones have a digital camera, which can be partially connected to the Internet. Therefore, they need a higher value display panel (color TFT LCD, size 3-4 inches, resolution WVGA [800×480 dot]).

In 2010, 4G (LTE) service was started, with the line speed exceeding 50Mbps and full access to the Internet. Watching movies and playing games also need more high-definition (hd) (1270×720 dot) and full HD (1920×1080 dot) high-resolution display panels, which are larger than 5 inches in size and are made of TFT LCD and AMOLED technology.

With the evolution of several generations of mobile phone services (from 2G to 3G and 4G), the value of display specifications is also increasing, from small black-and-white display to 3-4 inch TFT LCD color display, video graphics array (VGA) resolution, and TFT LCD and AMOLED with more than 5 inches. With the increase of the value of mobile phone display, the revenue of small and medium-sized display panels increased from about $5billion in 2001 to about $20billion in 2010, and to about $40billion in 2016.

In 2018, the new 5g service began to provide ultra-high speed of more than 2gbps in the United States, South Korea and China. In order to distinguish from 4G mobile phones, mobile phone manufacturers actively apply high contrast and curved borderless flexible AMOLED when developing 5g mobile phones. Therefore, the revenue of small and medium-sized display panels has further increased compared with 2017; In 2021, the revenue of small and medium-sized display panel market exceeded US $60billion for the first time.

With the support of Apple’s iPhone, flexible AMOLED will lead the revenue growth of small and medium-sized display panel Market in the future

Since 2017, the revenue of small and medium-sized display panel market has further increased. Since 2010, rigid AMOLED has driven the growth of the revenue of small and medium-sized display panels, but since 2017, the growth has been driven by flexible AMOLED.

Figure 3 shows the revenue of small and medium-sized TFT LCD and AMOLED from 2011 to 2021, divided by TFT technology and AMOLED substrate.

Figure 3: revenue of small and medium-sized TFT LCD and AMOLED by technology (annual)

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Source: Omdia

As shown in the figure, only the business of flexible AMOLED will continue to grow in 2021; The revenue of a-Si TFT LCD remains stable, while the revenue of rigid AMOLED and LTPS TFT LCD seems to be decreasing.

A key reason for the revenue growth of flexible AMOLED in 2017 is its application in iPhone x, which is the first time this technology has been applied to iPhone series.

Apple used to use LTPS TFT LCD and touch sensor in its iPhone 8 series, but since the iPhone X in 2017, it has switched to flexible AMOLED. Since then, Apple has expanded the application of flexible AMOLED in the iPhone 11 series in 2018, and fully adopted the technology in its iPhone 12 series with 5g high-speed service.

Compared with LTPS TFT LCD, although the price of flexible AMOLED is considered to be three times higher, the technology supports high contrast and high-speed display, with lower power consumption and thinner display panel, adding value to the new iPhone.

Therefore, between 2017 and 2021, the number of AMOLED display panels shipped to iPhone has increased, while the shipment of LTPS LCD has shrunk after 2015, as shown in Figure 4. This trend is certainly consistent with the revenue trend of small and medium-sized display panels by technology shown in Figure 3.

Figure 4: iPhone display panel shipments by display technology (year)

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Source: Omdia

By applying the high-value flexible AMOLED to its new high-end 5g iPhone, Apple has not only contributed to improving the value of the display panel, but also accelerated the establishment of the flexible AMOLED as the leading technology in the small and medium-sized display panel market.

The use of TFT LCD and rigid AMOLED is expanding to large-scale applications, but the application demand in small and medium-sized display panels in 2022 and beyond is uncertain

In the smart phone panel market, TFT LCD and rigid AMOLED are no longer competitive with flexible AMOLED. Even though the demand for middle and low-end smart phones will continue, TFT LCD and rigid AMOLED display panels must be delivered at a lower price, with no profit at all.

At the same time, in order to restore its value, TFT LCD and rigid AMOLED will be increasingly used in large-scale applications.

Production of rigid AMOLED is turning to large-size panels for high-performance laptops and tablets. TFT LCD, including a-Si and LTPS technologies, is turning to the on-board display market; Due to the shift to electric vehicles and the continuous carbon dioxide emission reduction policy, the demand for display panels will increase.

Omdia will continue to track the demand recovery of TFT LCD and rigid AMOLED in large-scale applications in the future.

However, it is very difficult to predict not only the small and medium-sized display panel market, but also any market related applications. The situation in Russia and Ukraine is seriously affecting the global economy, bringing a series of negative effects.

Author

Hiroshi Hayase

Research Manager

Small and medium size display study, omdia

Reviewed by: Pengjing

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