Apple has been aggressively looking for alternate OLED panel suppliers. Despite its best efforts though, it looks like the company will not be able to introduce an additional vendor in its OLED supply chain before 2019.
A report from Bloomberg details that LG Display will only be able to start manufacturing OLED panels on a full-fledged basis from 2019. The company should be able to start producing OLED panels in small quantities from late 2018 but full-scale production will only start in 2019.
LG and Apple are in talks about a deal that will see the latter invest billions of dollars into it to help set up an OLED factory. The talks between the two are in final stages, though the total deal amount and payment schedule are still being negotiated.
LG is struggling to secure the proper machine required for OLED production. It already lost out on years of orders on a key OLED machine from Canon Tokki Corp. to Samsung which has made things difficult for it.
With Samsung having a complete monopoly over Apple’s OLED supply chain, the company is selling its panels at a premium to it. Analysts peg that Samsung will ship an estimated 50 million OLED panels to Apple this year alone.
While Apple is also looking for more OLED suppliers, LG is ideally placed to be the second major supplier to the company after Samsung down the line.
For now, Apple will have to rely on Samsung for securing OLED panels for the iPhone 8 and possibly for the 2018 iPhone. The company could end up using OLED panels produced by LG Display in limited quantities on the 2018 iPhone, though it will likely end up waiting for the manufacturing process to mature for the 2019 iPhone.