Apple is seriously considering foldable tablets, but will launch OLED iPads, MacBooks first

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Apple is seriously considering foldable tablets, but will launch OLED iPads, MacBooks first

Apple has been very selective with its adoption of OLED displays. However, a recent report suggests that the Cupertino-based tech giant is now considering to go all in on OLED displays, and will start using them in more iPads, and more MacBooks. They will also make a foldable iPad

In a groundbreaking move set to reshape the $150 billion display industry, Apple is expanding its use of cutting-edge OLED screens to its iPad and MacBook product lines, as per a Nikkei report.

Apparently, the company plans to introduce OLED panels to its high-end iPads as early as next year, with an OLED MacBook model expected for production in the second half of 2025.

This strategic shift towards OLED displays, already prevalent in premium smartphones like iPhones and many Android smartphones, signifies a significant win for major display players such as Samsung Display, LG Display, and China’s BOE Technology Holding.

Conversely, it poses a potential challenge for other display manufacturers, including JDI and Sharp in Japan, and AUO and Innolux in Taiwan, that lack a substantial presence in the OLED segment.

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In addition to adopting OLED technology, Apple is reportedly also contemplating the introduction of foldable iPads first, instead of foldable smartphones, marking a further step into cutting-edge display innovations. While a concrete timeline for this development is yet to be established, industry sources suggested to Nikkei, that Apple is actively exploring the possibilities. However, even then, the foldable tablets will have to wait, as Apple will be launching the OLED display iPads and MacBooks before any foldable device.

The move follows Apple’s pivotal decision in 2020 to transition its premium iPhones to OLED displays, causing a ripple effect in the global display industry.

Now, the company’s shift towards OLED for iPads is poised to disrupt the tablet market further. As the world’s largest tablet manufacturer, Apple shipped 60.4 million iPads last year, claiming a formidable 37.4% global market share.

Huawei and Samsung have been trailblazers in adopting OLED displays for tablets, contributing to the strengthening of the Chinese display supply chain. Samsung, in particular, has been aggressive in replacing traditional LCD screens with OLED in its products.

With OLED smartphone sales already dominating nearly half of the global market, the forecast for tablets is similarly optimistic.

Counterpoint Research predicts that by the second quarter of 2024, 15% of tablets will feature OLED screens, up from the current 8%. The endorsement of OLED by industry leaders like Apple is expected to encourage other brands to follow suit, thereby stimulating increased supply chain investments for this advanced technology.

Notably, BOE, a major OLED supplier for iPhones, recently unveiled plans to invest $8.65 billion in constructing an 8.6-gen OLED display factory. This move echoes Samsung Display’s existing advanced plant, set to commence production in late 2025, reinforcing the industry’s commitment to OLED technology.

In light of the rising prevalence of OLED in smartphones, tablets, and personal computers, industry experts anticipate heightened pressure on traditional LCD display suppliers.

Nikkei’s report quotes display analyst Boyce Fan from TrendForce who asserts that the shift towards OLED is inevitable, leading LCD display makers to downsize their capacity as the demand for OLED continues to grow. This shift also suggests a more competitive and less lucrative landscape for the automotive market, as display manufacturers pivot their focus in response to evolving market trends.

(With inputs from agencies)

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