7.31.2017

Apple Pressing LG to Add OLED Display Production for 2018 iPhone, Limiting Samsung’s Leverage

Amid reports Apple is investing billions of dollars to help LG begin production of OLED displays for future iPhones, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has issued a new report sharing his take on the situation.

According to Kuo, the OLED display panel for this year’s “iPhone 8” has been the “single most troublesome component for Apple in terms of bargaining power,” as Samsung is currently the only company with design and production capabilities to make the displays. To counter Samsung’s advantage, Apple is working hard to support LG’s efforts to ramp up similar expertise and capabilities.

We think Apple is therefore committed to having LGD geared up for its OLED iPhone display business in 2018 as it seeks to reduce supply risks. Even though LGD may likely start off with minimal initial penetration in 2018 (we estimate no more than 4-6%), the effort, with the full commitment of both Apple and LGD, will help LGD mature during the process and steadily gain supply share from 2019 onward. This will in turn continuously boost Apple’s bargaining power on OLED prices.

Kuo predicts LG will capture 10–20 percent of iPhone OLED display production in 2019 and up to 20–30 percent in 2020, helping to diversify Apple’s sourcing and limit Samsung’s leverage.

While LG will have expertise at production of the display panels themselves, Kuo predicts Foxconn subsidiary General Interface Solution (GIS) will be brought on board to assist with lamination processes. GIS would also offer expertise in production troubleshooting and vertical integration with Foxconn, so it would be an ideal partner for accelerating LG’s growth in Apple’s display supply chain.

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