Apple Best Positioned to Bring High Volume Consumer MicroLEDs to Market


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“MicroLED displays could potentially match or exceed OLED performance in all critical attributes,” comments Dr. Eric Virey, senior technology & market analyst at Yole Développement. It includes brightness, contrast, color gamut, refresh rate, viewing angle, ruggedness and durability, resolution and pixel density, lifetime, power consumption etc.

Yole and its partner Knowmade, both part of Yole Group of Companies release two microLEDs reports to reveal the status of the technology and give a deep understanding of the industry, the companies involved and the related supply chain. 

Sony’s demonstration of a full HD 55” microLED TV at CES 2012, more than six years ago, was the first exposure for microLED displays and generated a lot of excitement. Since Apple acquired Luxvue in 2014, many leading companies such as Facebook, Google, Samsung, LG or Intel have entered the game via sizable internal developments, acquisitions, like those of mLED and eLux, or investments in startups such as glō or Aledia.

Analyzing Apple’s microLED patent activity shows that the company essentially halted its filing around 2015. This is a surprising finding in the light of the fact that the consumer electronics giant has maintained a large project team and consistently spent hundreds of millions of dollars annually on microLED development. A closer analysis however brought up the name of a possible strawman entity used by Apple to continue filing patents and shows that the company is still advancing key aspects of microLED technologies.

“Despite a later start compared to pioneers such as Sony or Sharp, Apple’s portfolio is one of the most complete, comprehensively covering all critical technologies pertinent to microLEDs,” explains Dr. Virey from Yole. “The company is the most advanced and still one of the best positioned to bring high volume microLED products to the market. However, it also faces unique challenges”, he adds. 

Apple can’t afford to tarnish its brand and introduce a product featuring such a highly differentiating technology that would be anything but flawless. Moreover, it requires high volumes, which makes setting up the supply chain more challenging than for any other company. In addition, it has no prior experience in display manufacturing and due to its need for secrecy, has to develop pretty much everything internally, duplicating technologies and infrastructures that others have the option to outsource.

The smartphones sector is a good example to illustrate the leadership of Apple. Indeed smartwatch volumes could reach 100 million units by 2027 and Apple remains the single largest smartwatch maker, explains Yole’s analysts in microLED reports. Yole’s scenario assumes that Apple would start using microLEDs in 2021 in a new flagship model, and, as is common with the brand, will propagate the technology in a staggered fashion over the next three years as legacy products are discontinued… MicroLED Displays report invites you to discover the MicroLED world with a section dedicated to the patent landscape. With this focus, Yole Group of Companies offers you a unique opportunity to get a clear view of the competitive landscape, understand the current challenges and identify business opportunities.

MicroLED webcast will average both Yole's reports, MicroLED Displays and MicroLED Displays: Intellectual Property Landscape report in order to provide a global overview and status of the microLED industry. Powered by Yole, this event taking place on October 11, will provide an update on the status of the microLED industry. Dr. Eric Virey will detail the activity of the major players as well as remaining technology and supply chain bottlenecks. In addition, cost aspects will also be discussed as well as an assessment of when products can realistically be expected to hit the market.

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