BOE Makes Investment in Plant and Equipment for OLED Module Lines

Feb 25, 2020

It has been confirmed that BOE, the biggest display maker in China, has started making investment in plant and equipment in order to supply OLEDs to Apple. It will be interesting to see whether BOE can be a third OLED supplier for Apple in 2021 following Samsung Display and LG Display.
According to the industry, BOE recently decided to invest in OLED module lines exclusively for Apple. It is heard that BOE is planning to construct 10 new module lines at its B11 OLED plant located in Sichuan. Module line is where many components are assembled so that a display panel can be attached to finished products such as smartphone. It is expected that BOE will have an entire assembly line from panel to module as it has Gen 6 flexible OLED fab at B11 plant.
BOE has consistently been making attempts to supply its OLEDs to Apple. Along with the construction of B11 plant, it has been participating in projects for development of OLEDs for iPhones. However, it has yet to supply its OLEDs as its OLED has not satisfied Apple’s strict quality evaluation.
BOE’s decision to invest in module lines does not indicate that BOE has signed a contract with Apple. It will be able to supply OLEDs once it passes Apple’s strict evaluation. The reason why BOE’s recent investment is still drawing interests is because its investment is a follow-up decision from its recent communication with Apple.
“We heard that Apple recently asked BOE to make necessary preparations regarding supply of OLEDs.” said multiple representatives from the industry who are familiar with BOE’s situation.

BOE’s foldable panel (Reference: BOE’s homepage) <BOE’s foldable panel (Reference: BOE’s homepage)>

There is now a greater chance for BOE to become one of Apple’s OLED supplier. Apple currently has high level of dependence on Samsung Display. Samsung Display was the only OLED supplier for iPhone X and it also owns most of supplies of OLEDs for iPhone 11 series. As a result, it is urgent for Apple to diversify its OLED suppliers.
BOE needs to raise the level of importance of OLED within its entire businesses. Although BOE has become the world’s leading display maker by surpassing South Korean display makers, its position within the OLED industry is relatively weak. As a result, it is important for BOE to put emphasis on next-generation high value products such as OLED, QLED, and microLED.
Because Apple wants to diversify its OLED suppliers while BOE wants to expand its OLED business, there is a high chance that a partnership between two companies will become solidified.
Emergence of BOE is definitely a bad news for Samsung Display and LG Display as they may see their supplies get reduced and have to reduce their unit costs if BOE joins them as one of Apple’s OLED suppliers.
It is heard that BOE is looking to supply its OLEDs to Apple in June of 2021. It will be interesting to see whether BOE’s recent investment will lead to actual supply of OLEDs to Apple.
Staff Reporter Yun, Geonil | benyun@etnews.com

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