Not All Micro LED Displays Are The Same – Omdia’s Analysis On Apple Watch Micro LED Displays

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In a recent turn of events, amsOSRAM, the key Micro LED chip supplier for the Apple Watch project, has announced a re-assessment of its Micro LED strategy to record non-cash impairment charges, including the Micro LED chip fab re-assessment. This indicates the possible cancellation of Micro LED display adoption in Apple Watches – a scenario that has shocked the Micro LED display industry.

Apple had planned to adopt the new Micro LED display for its Ultra smart watch but has delayed its decision several times, to the point that it has now reached a pending or cancellation scenario.

Omdia’s analysis of the situation offers insights into the recently reported delay or cancellation of Micro LED displays for the Apple Watch.

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  • Apple’s Micro LED display technology utilizes RGB separate LEDs on TFT with Micro IC integration. Omdia’s cost simulation reveals that a 2.13-inch 540×440 resolution display with over 900,000 LEDs is more than twice the cost of other Micro LED displays, and over three times the cost of current OLED technology.
  • It is a cost and balance dilemma. As of now, high-end smart watches with OLED technology, such as the Apple Watch Ultra, Hermès Apple Watch, Tag Heuer’s E4 Golf and Garmin’s MARQ, already offer a “good enough” experience with high-end features such as brightness, power consumption, and robustness. Although Micro LED displays can push these premium watches to another level, the question remains if the extremely high cost will be accepted by these brands, OEMs, and consumers.
  • Apple may delay or cancel its Micro LED smart watch plan because the current Micro LED technology might not be economically viable. However, ongoing R&D in Micro LED technology indicates that Apple may revisit this concept for the Apple Watch in the next five years, especially if the other Micro LED technology (such as without Micro IC or RGB stacked LED) becomes more viable. Apple certainly still has a strong need for technology and feature differentiation.
  • Certainly, this does not spell the end of Micro LED displays, but it will diminish the Micro LED display forecast in smartwatch application, while other applications of Micro LED display technology in AR/VR/XR, automotive displays, transparent interface displays and large-screen TV/public displays are getting ready for commercialization presently. Omdia anticipates adjustments in the Micro LED display market forecasts but believes that the prospects are promising and will provide updates through its Micro LED Display Market Tracker.
  • For a new display technology with better features but high cost, it is certain that the supply chain driving is not enough to grow and needs a “strong” brand or OEM to adopt, endorse and promote the technology to its end users. This will be critical for the future development of Micro LED display technology in different applications such as TV, automotive, AR/VR, and smartwatches.

 

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