Taiwanese display supplier AU Optronics is going to start offering some serious competition to the absolute leader in AMOLED displays, Samsung, which owes about 98% of the AMOLED market.
Having only one player with such a massive market share is not usually a good thing for the evolution of a product. Samsung’s utter dominance of the AMOLED market might explain why we didn’t see a Super AMOLED Plus display in the Galaxy S3. Moreover, some LCDs like LG’s AH-IPS and the HTC One X’s display (which seems to be AH-IPS but with some tweaks) are starting to pose serious threats to the supremacy of Samsung’s Super AMOLED.
However, HTC is not giving up on AMOLED just yet, as it still is a great display technology that’s supposed to be the way of the future. This is in spite the fact that LCDs have improved at breakneck speed lately and they should offer great competition to AMOLED for a long time.
With all the craziness about high resolutions lately, with people starting to crave for 4k or even 8k TVs and ultra-high resolution laptops, it will get very hard for AMOLED to compete (especially when using the non-Pentile matrix). AMOLED displays are already more expensive at current resolutions, and if people have to choose between a “Retina” IPS display and a “normal” AMOLED, they might go for the higher resolution display.
But Samsung may be crazy enough to compete with LCD even at those high resolutions, and we know that they are preparing to launch a tablet this year that has 2560×1600 resolution, which will most likely be Super AMOLED (though probably Pentile).
The question is, can AU Optronics keep up with Samsung? We’re about to see that starting this June, when HTC will start shipping AUO-made AMOLED displays in the One S, and my guess is (and I’m hoping) that they will use the same qHD resolution, but without Pentile. That would be a welcome improvement for future One S buyers.
Sony is also rumored to use AUO’s new AMOLED displays in the upcoming LT30i smartphone, although Samsung will continue to supply Super AMOLED panels to HTC and Sony until AU Optronics is ready to ship higher volumes.
AU Optronics is committed to this market, though, and they will invest $1 billion over the course of this year to double their capacity. We should keep an eye on them to see if they are ready to take on Samsung yet.