Supply chain
Is Quantum Dot the next big thing for the TV market?
Alex Wolfgram, DIGITIMES, Taipei

Over the last six months TV supply chains have been talking up Quantum Dot (QD) TVs, stating that many TV vendors aim to release new units in 2015 to compete in the high-end TV segment in conjunction with Ultra HD and OLED. While there have been releases primarily by China-, Japan- and Korea-based vendors, supply chains still have low expectations for 2105 as vendors are still testing the market with various products and have yet to enter the busy TV purchasing season.

Shipment estimates for Ultra HD (4K) enhanced-color LCD TVs using QD technology in 2015 are 1.3 million while overall 4K TVs are expected to reach 40 million to represent approximately 20% of global TV shipments. Curved OLED TV shipments are expected to reach 800,00 in 2015. QD TVs without 4K resolution are also on the market but have yet to spike in sales due to the technology being relatively new.

LCD TVs based on QD technology, due to comparable color performance compared with OLED TVs but much lower production costs, are expected to be a major driving force of the TV market until 2018 when OLED TVs are completely commercialized, according to the Industrial Economics and Knowledge Center (IEK) under Taiwan's government-sponsored Industrial Technology Research Institute. For 55-inch units, QD TVs are about 30-35% more expensive than non-QD units whereas OLED TVs are about five times the amount. It will take Korea panel makers roughly three more years to decrease OLED material costs for TV panels in order for the technology to be affordable for mainstream markets, said IEK.

However, these industry estimates only seem to point to QD having a competitive edge through 2018, which is also when Digitimes Research expects Korea panel makers to drastically increase yields for OLED TV panels. Taking this into consideration, plus the current lack of explosive growth for QD TV displays, coupled with development from major display makers LG Display and Samsung Display for OLED TV panels, seem to suggest that QD's position in the market is not one that will surpass OLED, but rather will be an alternative solution in the high-end market over the next few years.

AUO believes QD technology will be a new focal point for TV vendors in 2015 in addition to new applications for Ultra HD such as HDR. AUO, however, is still in negotiations with customers and expects to begin mass producing the technology in the second half of 2015.

Samsung Electronics has also been quoted as saying it believes 4K QD TVs will have a stronger presence in the TV industry over OLED during 2015 as OLED costs remain high, but yet has not expressed confidence in the technology being the next growth driver for TV vendors.

Consumers can expect to see a new lineup of TV options in the second half of 2015 ranging from new 4K units, HDR TVs and QD TVs, but unless leading TV vendors Samsung and LG popularize the technology and make it more cost efficient it may only be a preference for consumers rather than the next "big thing" despite its superior viewing quality. Heading into the second half of 2015 will be a major turning point for the TV industry nevertheless as the amount of higher-end TV technologies will increase.

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