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Apple’s Strategic Pivot: Prioritizing OLED Over Foldable iPads

In a groundbreaking development poised to reshape the $150 billion display industry, Apple is set to expand the utilization of cutting-edge OLED screens in its iPad and MacBook product lines, according to a report from Nikkei. As per the report, Apple intends to incorporate OLED panels into its high-end iPads as early as next year, with plans for an OLED MacBook model expected to enter production in the second half of 2025.

All About the New OLED Displays from Apple

This strategic shift toward OLED displays, already prevalent in premium smartphones like iPhones and many Android devices, represents a substantial victory for major display players such as Samsung Display, LG Display, and China’s BOE Technology Holding. However, it presents a potential challenge for other display manufacturers, including JDI and Sharp in Japan, as well as AUO and Innolux in Taiwan, that lack a significant presence in the OLED segment.

In addition to adopting OLED technology, Apple is reportedly considering the introduction of foldable iPads before foldable smartphones, signaling a deeper foray into cutting-edge display innovations. While a specific timeline for this development is yet to be established, industry sources suggest that Apple is actively exploring these possibilities. Nevertheless, the release of OLED display iPads and MacBooks will precede any launch of foldable devices.

This move follows Apple’s pivotal decision in 2020 to transition its premium iPhones to OLED displays, causing a ripple effect in the global display industry. The shift toward OLED for iPads is expected to further disrupt the tablet market, given Apple’s position as the world’s largest tablet manufacturer, having shipped 60.4 million iPads last year and claiming a formidable 37.4% global market share.

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Huawei and Samsung have been pioneers in adopting OLED displays for tablets, contributing to the strengthening of the Chinese display supply chain. Samsung, in particular, has been aggressive in replacing traditional LCD screens with OLED in its products.

With OLED smartphone sales dominating nearly half of the global market, the outlook for tablets is similarly optimistic. Counterpoint Research predicts that by the second quarter of 2024, 15% of tablets will feature OLED screens, up from the current 8%. The endorsement of OLED by industry leaders like Apple is expected to encourage other brands to follow suit, stimulating increased supply chain investments in this advanced technology.

BOE, a major OLED supplier for iPhones, recently announced plans to invest $8.65 billion in constructing an 8.6-gen OLED display factory, echoing Samsung Display’s existing advanced plant set to commence production in late 2025, reinforcing the industry’s commitment to OLED technology.

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In light of the rising prevalence of OLED in smartphones, tablets, and personal computers, industry experts anticipate heightened pressure on traditional LCD display suppliers. Display analyst Boyce Fan from TrendForce, quoted in Nikkei’s report, asserts that the shift toward OLED is inevitable, leading LCD display makers to downsize their capacity as the demand for OLED continues to grow. This shift also implies a more competitive and less lucrative landscape for the automotive market as display manufacturers pivot their focus in response to evolving market trends.


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