Superior features offered by flexible displays in terms of portability, non-fragility, and weight, makes them an attractive alternative for consumer electronics manufacturers. Furthermore, the adoption of Organic Light Emitting Diode- (OLED) based flexible displays is witnessing exponential growth with the rise in high-definition content and high-performance applications. Moreover, the high growth of the smart wearable market is impelling the market demand.
Manufacturers are investing huge amounts for the expansion of their production capacities in order to meet the demand. For instance, in 2016, LG Display announced the investment of KRW 970 million in a 6th Generation flexible OLED display production line to strengthen its market presence.
In addition, the rising adoption of OLED-based devices in mobile phones, VR headsets, digital cameras, laptops, tablets, and televisions among others is contributing to the growth of the market for flexible display. On the other hand, factors such as complex manufacturing processes and high capital investment may pose a challenge to new market entrants.
Rising demand for flexible displays from healthcare and automotive among other industries is anticipated to create growth opportunities for the key manufacturers operating in the market. Automotive manufacturers focus on integrating flexible displays in automotive interiors. For example, in May 2019, Audi AG and Samsung Corporation entered into a strategic partnership to promote the Audi Prologue A9 Prototype, a concept car by the former. The proposed car is expected to house a flexible, high-resolution Samsung OLED display near its gear stick to help better control the vehicle settings.
In terms of display type, the flexible display market is categorized into, LCD, OLED, EPD, and others. The OLED segment captured a prominent market share exceeding 60% in 2018 and is expected to grow significantly during the forecast period. OLED-based flexible displays can be subjected to a high degree of flexibility, consume less energy and hence are increasingly finding adoption in smartphones. OLED flexible displays are also relatively sleek in design and lightweight as compared to LCD displays since they do not need backlight or filters. On the other hand, the rising adoption of flexible display-based e-readers is supplementing the growth of the Electronic Paper Display (EPD) segment in the forthcoming years.
Flexible displays are used in different products, including smartphones, wearables, televisions, E-readers, and automotive, among others. The smartphone segment is expected to witness considerable CAGR exceeding 12% over the forecast period. The introduction of smart city concept, digital signage systems with flexible displays is expected to be extensively used for map displays and advertising in the forthcoming years.
The wearables (excluding smart watches), smartwatches, and automotive and transportation segments collective accounted for a market share of 17% in terms of revenue in 2018. The growth in the automotive and transportation segment is attributed to the fact that several automotive manufacturers are emphasizing on integrating innovative state-of-the-art display technologies in infotainment and navigation systems to enhance user experience.
Different material substrates used for the manufacturing of flexible displays include glass, metal, and plastics. The plastic segment held the largest market share in 2018 and is estimated to expand at a CAGR exceeding 25% over the forecast period. This is attributed to the on-going paradigm shift from glass substrates to plastic substrates due to the superior features offered by plastic in terms of size, robustness, and weight.
Increasing preference for plastic as a substrate material can also be attributed to the growing demand for low-cost, flexible substrates, especially in the electronics industry. On the other hand, glass substrates have superior resistance to water vapor and other gases and hence are durable. The flexible display market players are working on designing durable glass substrate since plastic is prone to scratching, creasing and losing color over time.
Asia Pacific accounts for the majority of the market value share and is expected to expand at a CAGR of over 25% during the forecast period. The regional growth is accredited to the rising demand for compact and light-weight electronic devices.
Additionally, the proliferation of smartphones and increasing adoption of advanced technologies, such as 3D displays and augmented reality is expected to have a positive impact on the regional market growth.
The presence of a large number of consumer electronics manufacturers and a huge customer base is also supporting the regional demand for flexible displays. Countries such as Japan, South Korea, China, and India are the leaders in the development of flexible displays. China is the largest manufacturer of flexible OLED screens worldwide. For instance, the Chengdu factory based in China manufactures more than 70 million sheets of flexible phone screens every year.
North America accounted for more than 20% of the overall revenue share in 2018. The regional market is witnessing healthy growth due to the rising demand for energy-efficient devices. Europe is expected to witness substantial growth in the forthcoming years due to the significant demand for flexible displays from the automotive industry.