Taiwan will end Korean AMOLED screen monopoly this year, says trade group

A senior official at a Taipei trade group said Samsung, long the dominant maker of the screens, will soon be challenged

Taiwanese screen manufacturers are shipping samples of AMOLED screens and will begin mass production in the third-quarter of this year, an official at a local trade group said Monday.

"Korea will never dominate this market again," said Li Chang, Deputy Secretary General of the Taipei Computer Association.

Samsung Electronics currently manufacturers nearly all of the AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) screens on the market, along with some production from compatriot LG Display. The technology is brighter and has faster response times than traditional LCD screens, but the high cost of manufacture and limited supply have put a bottleneck on production. More manufacturers should help alleviate both issues.

The two main Taiwanese panel makers, AU Optronics and Chimei Innolux, have been developing the technology to mass produce the screens and will begin in the next few months, said Chang, who spoke at the Computex trade show in Taipei.

Samsung, which has even adopted the term "AMOLED" into its branding, has used the screens in its successful Galaxy S line of smartphones. The technology has also been used in devices made by Nokia and HTC.

In 2010, a shortage of AMOLED screens from Samsung forced HTC to use Super LCD screens from Sony in its phones instead, meaning some handsets from the same product line had different screen types.

Today, AMOLED screens are used almost exclusively in portable devices, but makers are targeting TV products as the technology matures and prices come down. LG and Samsung both showed market-ready super-thin models earlier this year.

Apple has used a rival technology for its phones and tablets. Its "Retina Display" uses a technology called in-plane switching that enhances the specs of traditional LCD screens.

A key difference between LCD and OLED technology is that LCD screens do not emit light directly, filtering colors from a backlight that takes up space and can produce heat. OLEDs emit their own light, and can be used in a wider variety of applications including flexible screens, but can require more power to produce white, an issue for devices that commonly display Web pages and other print-heavy documents.

Computex officially opens its doors from Tuesday.

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Jay Alabaster

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