Sometimes it is important to apply just the slightest bit of logic and understanding of Apple and its ecosystem when taking stories from foreign publications and re-blogging them like brain-dead drones.
Thanks to either a bad translation, or simply a quote taken out of context, the latest Apple rumor floating around is that the next iPhone will include a flexible display. The rumor originated from The Korea Times, which quoted Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Kwon Oh-hyun. He allegedly said the company is receiving “huge” orders from interested customers. Kwon did not mention any specific companies, but claimed “industry sources” (aka analysts) said Apple is likely one of those customers. We are not buying it…
First, let’s examine this “huge” order. The report from the Korea Times rightly pointed out that it would be hard to imagine flexible displays included in the next iPhone, but it still speculated Apple could be behind this large order. Since Samsung plans to ship the displays to OEMs in large numbers around the same time Apple is set to unveil the iPhone this fall, we find it hard to imagine Apple will replace its flagship Retina display— and the marketing that goes with it—to rely on this new flexible tech from Samsung. If it is not included in the yet-to-be unveiled next-gen iPhone coming this October, why would Apple order “huge” numbers of flexible displays now for a device more than a year-and-a-half out?
Another concern is quality. In April, the Korea Times said Samsung could meet Apple’s demand to make the switch from LCD to OLED possible, but “technical problems” were likely preventing Retina-quality pixel density and color accuracy of currently used LCDs. Even the analysts the Korea Times quoted today noted Apple is unlikely to adopt the tech any time soon. Research firm Lux Research said the flexible displays will only be a $140 million market in 2017, which is a long way from the rumored $8 billion worth of displays and chips Apple purchased from Samsung during 2011.
It is definitely possible that Apple is experimenting with flexible displays. A plausible scenario is that Apple is testing the flexible OLEDs with new, wearable form factors. Reports from The New York Times last December claimed Apple was developing secret wearable prototypes, one of which was described as “a curved-glass iPod that would wrap around the wrist.” It is much easier to imagine Apple experimenting with flexible displays as a future wearable iPod nano-like device—a scenario we said makes a lot of sense last August thanks to Bluetooth 4.0.
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As for a flexible/bendable iPhone, Kwon admitted the OLED tech will not fully replace LCDs until 2015. Lux Research added the flexible displays “suffer from materials and manufacturing challenges and will have only a 15 percent share of the flexible display market” in 2017.
- If Apple chose to move to OLED, Samsung now has the numbers. Quality still a consideration. (9to5mac.com)
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