Tencent Technology News on January 29, according to people familiar with the matter, Samsung Display, a display manufacturer under South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co., is already preparing to expand its foldable screen business and start selling products to companies outside of Samsung’s mobile division.
Previously, the flexible panel was Samsung Display’s exclusive product for Samsung’s mobile department, but the company plans to sell 1 million such panels on the open market this year. It is said that a number of Chinese smartphone manufacturers are cooperating with Samsung and plan to ship devices equipped with foldable screens in the second half of 2021.
Compared with the annual sales volume of about 350 million smartphones, the supply of 1 million flexible panels is not very large, but this is already equivalent to the overall scale of the early foldable smartphone market.
The latest data from market research company Canalys shows that prior to the release of Samsung’s second-generation foldable smartphone Galaxy Z Fold 2, the sales of foldable screens (first generation) totaled 1.74 million from September 2019 to June 2020. Piece. Samsung hopes that this number will grow substantially in 2021, and Samsung Display plans to supply 10 million folding screens to the mobile phone department.
It is reported that third parties do not have much choice when purchasing folding screens from Samsung. According to the report, Samsung currently only offers two types of foldable displays: one is a horizontal-axis folding display like the Galaxy Z Flip, and the other is a vertical-axis folding display like the Galaxy Z Fold.
The industry is not sure what a flexible screen smartphone should look like. At CES, various companies have introduced different form factors. There are concept versions of rolling screen smartphones, there are outward-folding displays like Huawei Mate X, and triple-folding screen smartphones like wallets or brochures. However, Samsung may not yet cater to any of these form factors.
This move marks the end of Samsung's franchise period in foldable screen technology, which is an exception to its normal operating methods. Samsung Display and Galaxy mobile phone divisions are both labeled as Samsung Electronics, but Samsung’s various divisions often treat each other like any other customer, and cannot enjoy any discounts.
But as a whole, Samsung makes more money from selling iPhone parts to Apple than selling Galaxy phones to consumers. Recently, with the rise of faster refreshing OLED screens, we have seen the benefits of this “component first” approach. OnePlus, Google, and other companies are all using 90 Hz OLED screens made by Samsung.
However, the foldable screen is special. Samsung Display said the company has invested six years and US$130 million in research and development funds to bring foldable screens to the market. So far, its mobile phone department has exclusively obtained this technology. Presumably, the plan at the time was that Samsung Electronics would be far ahead of the competition and become the only company selling foldable phones in the next few years. However, the company's plan did not succeed.
At present, China's largest display manufacturer BOE is also developing folding screens and providing support for Samsung's two largest foldable mobile phone competitors-Huawei Mate X and Moto Razr. In addition, there are many other companies that bring prototypes of foldable smartphones to the show, but as far as products that have the courage to launch on the market are concerned, there are only devices driven by Samsung and BOE.
However, analysts believe that Samsung is still the only "mass market" flexible display panel supplier, and other equipment is mostly in the development stage, or there are problems such as distribution and inventory. A recent report by industry tracking agency Display Supply Chain Consulters shows that Samsung’s market share of foldable smartphones in 2020 is as high as 88%.