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upcoming shows, lighting and the phOLED roadmap -1
In a month, Merck KGaA will exhibit some of its lighting solutions at the Light + Building trade fair in Frankfurt. There are a few things that are a couple of things that are interesting about this:
LEDs have increased their lead over OLED for lighting purposes, based largely on cost. However, the LED portion of this demonstration also features a more favorable color index. Nonetheless, one of the designers is quoted as strongly favoring using the two approaches together, with phOLED panels providing ambient light, which is then augmented by LEDs for more focused areas. This makes a lot of sense to me, if it can be cost-efficient.
That brings us to my second point. Merck is cooperating with Konica Minolta, amongst others, on the panels. Konica is focused on printable roll-to-roll processing, which should be much cheaper than other production methods. That in turn makes me think that the Livilux inks used here were soluble, rather than evaporable (Merck offers both). Konica has demonstrated such panels before, but more for special use cases. This demo makes is seem like the company really is finally almost ready for mass production. LG Chem was first to market in this field, but I've not seen any evidence that the Acuity lighting panels ever really took off. LG Display recently completed the purchase of LG Chem's OLED lighting business and the recent conference call makes it seem like plans focused almost exclusively on growth of OLED screens for the next year.
In the short term, LGD is set to renew the dividend and the media is likely to focus increasingly on Mobile World Congress, which runs from February 22 to 25. The latest twist in the smart phone wars is the use of what look like PMOLEDs (passive matrix, low-energy, always-on screens). I can't see them making much difference. What continues to matter in the big picture is the timing of the shift to printed production, which presents an opportunity for AUO. Even if printed production is starting to happen for lighting this year, that gives LG Display years to capitalize on televisions. If there is any technological revelation that will actually affect the long-term picture it is most likely to come at SID which runs from May 22 to 27, rather than at MWC.