Sharp To Possibly Compete With LG On OLED 4K TV Panels

by on August 3, 2017

Juan Carlos Ropel, August 3, 2017

TV maker Sharp, which is now formally owned by the Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn, is possibly considering major expansion plans in its display technology R&D division. The formerly independent Japanese company is apparently working on a plan to start developing and building its own native OLED screen production lines by next year.

According to reporting from the Japan Times, an investment of roughly $515 million U.S dollars will be made to create production capacity for OLED display panels at two different plants in the spring of 2018. One of these plants would work on creating small and medium-sized screens for devices like phones and tablets while the other plant would be busy with TV displays and OLED 4K TV displays in particular.

This of course is a market segment that’s absolutely dominated by LG’s rather spectacular OLED television panels, which the company has installed in all of its best premium 4K TVs since 2014 and more recently in their ultra-premium 4K HDR TVs from the 2016 and 2017 television lineups.

If Sharp/Foxconn is really planning this expansion into OLED, it’s going against the dominance of one very well-entrenched competitor in doing so. For one thing, the $515 million investment reportedly being planned for this start into OLED display technology completely pales in comparison to the billions that LG has already spent to firmly develop its own native OLED screen technology and Sharp’s investment pales even more when compared to the further $13.5 billion being pledged by LG for continued improvements in OLED TV displays between now and 2018.

OLED displays offer a fundamentally "simpler" but much more advanced display design than LCD televisions

OLED displays offer a fundamentally “simpler” but much more advanced display design than LCD televisions

Then there’s the fact that LG’s OLED panels already come priced at increasingly affordable levels and offer very impressive performance across virtually all measurements of TV and device display quality. They create perfect black levels, remarkably high levels of brightness not only by OLED standards but even by normally brighter LCD/LED display standards and of course, also in how well they deliver vibrant colors. Furthermore, LG’s OLED screens have so far shown themselves to deliver excellent lasting power. In other words, Sharp has a lot of catching up to do on a highly competitive proprietary technology and it will need to pull this catching up off at a cost that lets it compete on both price and quality.

It’s also worth noting that LG already also sells part of its OLED TV display output to other existing third-party manufacturers of OLED 4K UHD TVs. Both Sony’s and Panasonic’s 4K HDR OLED television models for the North American and worldwide markets are in fact built with LG-made screens.

Sharp for its part currently only manufactures LCD 4K TVs from its long-running Aquos lineup, which has been received with sometimes mixed reviews.

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