by: MATTHEW BENSON
It’s hard to believe, but in just a couple of months, the original LG G Flex will be seeing its second anniversary. At the time, a mainstream consumer device with a bendable display was almost too good to be true. Largely written off as proof-of-concept products and nothing more, Samsung’s Korea-only Galaxy Roundand the aforementioned “banana phone” ultimately gave rise to this year’s Galaxy S6 Edge and G Flex 2. By many accounts, this new plastic OLED panel concept is set to explode next year, and according to a new report, LG may be gearing up for the new display wars.
In an article published earlier today, Korean IT site etnews has stated that not only has “LG Display [started] mass-producing foldable display products” but “it decided to supply its foldable display products to a global business in the U.S. and started its preparation to produce them.”
The source goes on to explain that “It is likely [LG’s] first customer will be a global software (SW) business, and this business’s goal is to challenge Samsung Electronics’ and Apple’s strongholds in high-end Smartphone market with foldable Smartphones.” Clearly the company is not Apple (who apparently uses LG to provide the OLED displays on its Apple Watch), though the piece adds that this mysterious client “has not yet decided on timing to mass-produce foldable display products.”
Apparently so interested is the client that LG Display was actually able to split the investment costs in half with the company, which apparently had considered Samsung’s offerings but opted instead to sign a contract with the Galaxy-maker’s chief rival. The report also reiterated the belief that Samsung plans to introduce a foldable smartphone in January 2016, and added that LG’s business partner is “also planning to release its products at the similar time.”
The mentioned mystery
Given the rather sizable sum of cash required to construct the facilities used to produce these displays (“hundreds of millions of dollars”), it would follow that LG’s partner would clearly be a big player. The question though: who is it? Given the clearly-curved creation known as the Venice, one might assume BlackBerry was the unnamed customer, however as the company hails from Waterloo (Ontario), Canada that is clearly not the case. (For reference the financial figure quoted above may also be off given that LG had recently announced it would spent around a billion dollars on such a facility.)
There is a possibility that the writer meant to say the global business partner has offices in the US, but perhaps is not a US company. Motorola would be a likely candidate given that it had previously made use of AMOLED panels with the Nexus 6 and Moto X devices. Its parent company, Lenovo, is certainly a global player and definitely has cash to invest in new technology. Huawei might be another, though given the report didn’t mention China at all, it seems unlikely.
Perhaps the most interesting tide of the tale is why LG itself hasn’t done more with the bendable displays it clearly already can release to market. The company went on a trademarking binge a short while ago for Edge-related naming conventions, and way back at CES this January it showed off a dual edge display panel.
Whatever the case may be, it seems that by this time next year, the market may already be brimming with fantastic foldables. Only time will tell however, what comes to pass.