Samsung playing a key role in iPhone 8 supply chain management as OLED competition grows

A report out of Korea claims that Samsung will not only be manufacturing the OLED screens for the iPhone 8, but also playing a key role in the supply chain management for related components.

Samsung Display, the display-making unit of Samsung Electronics, is the only panel maker globally that mass-produces OLED panels for smartphones. Its market share stands at a whopping 95 percent currently. Because Apple is still less experienced in OLED, the display maker is said to be playing a key role in the overall supply chain management that consists of its own key parts suppliers …

The Korea Herald report suggests that Samsung itself will manufacture the OLED panels, the display driver chip and some of the flexible printed circuit boards, while it will also ‘play a key role’ in managing procurement of related components from four other Korean manufacturers.

Samsung’s non-memory chip unit System LSI will supply display driver IC, the display chip for the OLED screen, while STEMCO and LG Innotek will provide the chip on films that connect it to the printed circuit board. The flexible printed circuit board will be provided by Interflex, BH and Samsung Electro-Mechanics.

Samsung’s dominant position in the worldwide OLED panel market means that it is certain to be either the sole or primary supplier of OLED panels for the iPhone 8. Apple is reported to have ordered 70M displays from Samsung for the iPhone 8 as part of a three-year deal worth around $2.6B.

Such is Apple’s demand for the technology that it is expected to grab a full 14% of total worldwide OLED panel production this year.

However, while Samsung is OLED king for now, other manufacturers are gearing up to win Apple orders from 2018 on. We’ve already heard that Foxconn-owned Sharp is setting up production ready for 2018, with LG, Japan Display and BOE also in the running. A new report today from OLED Info says that Apple has already approached LG with regard to 2018 production.

Apple is reportedly launching one OLED iPhone this year, with all models switching to the newer display tech by 2019.

Concept image: Martin Hajek

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