Apple Tablet Seen as Not Likely to Include OLED Screen

Occasional rumors regarding Apple's forthcoming tablet have claimed that the device may include an OLED screen, with a report just last week suggesting that Apple's need for 10.1-inch screens had created shortages in both the LCD and OLED supplier markets.

Ars Technica examines the possibility, determining that the inclusion of an OLED screen in Apple's tablet is highly unlikely given the quantity of such screens available in the market.

Ars caught up with Barry Young, Managing Director of the OLED Association, and asked him about the state of OLED in general and the Apple tablet rumors in specific.

The problem with the recent rumor that Apple is hoarding 10-inch OLEDs, Young explained, is that "there's no real production of 10.1-inch panels" for anyone to hoard. If anyone were to produce a 10.1-inch panel, then it would have to be for a specific order. "I haven't seen any of the OLED suppliers commit to that yet," Young said of a hypothetical 10.1-inch panel production run.

According to Young, Samsung is the only company currently offering active matrix OLED panels in quantity, and it could only produce about 150,000 10.1-inch panels per month, with that level only being possible if the company shifted its entire production to that size of panel and abandoned its existing orders from other companies with which it is already struggling to keep up.

Apple has a long-term agreement with LG regarding development and supply of displays, but Young notes that LG has only 10-15% the capacity of Samsung when it comes to OLED technology, again insufficient to meet Apple's needs. Given the limited capacity of the OLED panel industry to supply Apple with such parts, Young's conclusion is that at best Apple could introduce a very expensive OLED model only in extremely limited quantities. Such a move would appear to agree with a November report claiming separate LCD and OLED models, with the OLED model coming in with a price tag near $2000, although it remains to be seen whether Apple would be willing to launch such a low-volume, high-cost niche product that would appear to be so similar to a cheaper LCD-based tablet offering.

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