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世界初のFoldableスマートフォンのタイトル、誰がつかみ取るか

先日17日に中国ZTEは「AXON M」を公開した。AXON Mは2枚の5.2型HD LCDをヒンジで結合し、消費者に更なる利便性を提供した。

<ZTEのAXON M、参考:ZTEの公式ウェブサイト>

ZTEの公式ウェブサイトによると、AXON Mは角度を自由に調整しながら折りたたみ可能で、テーブルの上に立てておき、2人同時に使用できる。

 

米国ITメディアシーネットはAXON Mについて、一つの画面は動画を再生し、もう一つの画面は電子メールを確認したりフェイスブックを利用するなど、二つのアプリを同時に操作できるため、便利であると評価した。

今まで日本のソニーや京セラなどの様々なセットメーカーで、同様な形状を持つスマートフォンを発売したことがある。しかし、ヒンジ部分とディスプレイの耐久性、バッテリー消耗、専用アプリが用意されていないなどの問題あり、市場からほとんど注目を集めなかった。

 

ZTEはスマートフォンの耐久性を向上させるために米国Corningの第5世代Gorilla Glassを搭載した。しかし、AXON MはIn-Folding方式(2つのディスプレイを内側に向けて折りたたむ方式)に比べ、耐久性の弱いOut-Folding方式(2つのディスプレイを外側に向けて折りたたむ方式)が採用され、耐久性に関する疑問が続くと見られる。

 

また、AXON Mは大画面ディスプレイなどバッテリーの消耗に影響する要素が増えたにもかかわらず、バッテリーの容量は3,810mAhしかない。6月にZTEが発売したZTE nubia N2には5.5型HD LCDと5,000mAhのバッテリーが搭載されたことに鑑みると、AXON Mのバッテリー容量が不足していると感じる消費者が多くなると見込まれる。

 

AXON Mはヒンジの角度を広げると6.75型の大画面になるが、中央に隙間があるため、完璧なFoldableスマートフォンとは言えない。最近、大画面に対する消費者のニーズが日増しに増加し、折りたたんだり広げたりすることができるFoldableスマートフォンの開発が加速している。

 

米国ロサンゼルスで開催されたSID 2017で、台湾AU Optronicsと中国BOEは、現在開発中のFoldableディスプレイを公開した。2社ともに1枚のフレキシブルOLEDを機械的な方式でFoldingしたが、サイズとFolding方式は多少異なる(Au Optronicsは5型in-Folding方式、BOEは5.5型out-Folding方式) 。

<AU Optronicsの5型Foldable OLED(左)とBOEの5.5型Foldable OLED(右)>

さらに、20日にSamsung Electronicsは特許庁に多関節ヒンジを用いて片方が曲がる形状の「フレキシブル電子装置」の特許を出願し、Galaxy Note8の発売懇談会でSamsung Electronicsのゴ・ドンジン社長は 「来年の無線事業部のロードマップにFoldableスマートフォンが含まれている」と述べた。

 

このようなZTEの動向を始めとし、本当の意味でFoldableスマートフォンの開発と市場をめぐるの先取り競争はさらに激しくなると見込まれる。

 

一方、UBI Researchは2016年に発刊した「Key issue and Market Analysis for Foldable OLED」レポートで、Foldable OLEDは2019年から本格的な量産を開始すると予想した。

Panel Shortage for Chinese Smartphone Industry…Supply Discussion with Taiwanese Panel Companies

ZTE`s Smartphone (출처=GSMARENA)

ZTE`s Smartphone (출처=GSMARENA)

Hyunjoo Kang / jjoo@olednet.com

Recently, DigiTimes reported that Chinese smartphone companies are discussing supply with Taiwanese panel companies due to panel shortage. According to the report, executives of Chinese smartphone companies such as ZTE, Vivo, GiONEE, etc. and Chinese panel companies including Truly recently met with Taiwanese panel companies, AUO, Innolux, Chunghwa Pictures Tubes, etc.

The reason that Chinese smartphone companies are experiencing the panel shortage is known to be because their panel suppliers reduced smartphone panel production due to too low prices. However, DigiTimes reported that Huawei is receiving relatively sufficient amount of panels from BOE, Tianma, etc.

Meanwhile, Skyworth, one of key Chinese OLED TV selling companies, showed lower than anticipated OLED TV sales in financial year of 2015 which ended in March. Chinese media reported that this is due to insufficient supply of OLED panel from LG Display.

[MWC 2016] Surge of AMOLED in China

A surge of AMOLED panels by Chinese set companies is starting. Chinese set companies exhibited many AMOLED panel applied products in MWC 2016 (Feb 22 – 25), forecasting that the demand for AMOLED panel could greatly increase.

 

6 companies, including Huawei, ZTE, LENOVO, and Gionee, exhibited AMOLED panel applied smartphones. Particularly, Hisense and KONKA, well known as TV set companies, presented AMOLED panel smartphones and the Chinese set companies’ increased interest in AMOLED panel could be confirmed.

 

The majority of the AMOLED panel smartphones exhibited by Chinese set companies had 5 inch level panel with HD and FHD level resolution, and analyzed to have been supplied by Samsung Display.

 

Samsung Display is known to have significant amount of mainstream AMOLED panels to Chinese set companies in 2015. Following this trend, over 100 million units of AMOLED panels are expected to head toward China in 2016.

 

The key points are Samsung Display’s rigid AMOLED panel production capa. and whether the Chinese AMOLED panel companies can carry out mass production. The current Samsung Display’s rigid AMOLED panel mass production capa. is estimated to be insufficient to meet the demands for Samsung Electronics’ mainstream Galaxy model and Chinese set companies. Chinese panel companies have also announced active mass production from the first half of this year.

 

From the significant occupation of Chinese set companies that applied AMOLED panel within the Chinese smartphone market, panel companies’ supply ability of AMOLED panel for Chinese set companies is expected to be one of the issues in 2016.

 

Huawei's Nexus 6P

Huawei’s Nexus 6P

 

LENOVO's Moto X Force

LENOVO’s Moto X Force

General Class AMOLED Panel Estimated to be Extensively Supplied. How Will it Affect OLED Industry?

Only 2 models of smartphone with the general class AMOLED panel were released in the first 2 quarters of 2015. However, as 5 more models were revealed until August in the third quarter, it is expected that demand for general class AMOLED panel will gradually increase.

 

Currently 7 companies, including Samsung Display, are mass producing or aiming to mass produce small to medium-sized AMOLED panel of rigid type. China’s EDO or Taiwan’s AUO are believed to be producing in small quantity for samples. Other Chinese companies are also aiming to mass produce AMOLED panel but satisfying the current demand is analyzed to be difficult. At present, Samsung Display is the only panel company that can meet the demand for general class AMOLED panel by set companies. There is much interest in whether AMOLED industry can rebound with the Samsung Display’s movement in the second half.

 

It is expected that Samsung Display will increase operation rate of A1 and A2 rigid lines in the second half in order to meet the demand for general class AMOLED panel. Following this, emitting material companies’ sales increase is also anticipated and positively affect management of AMOLED industry’s ecosystem.

 

If the demand for general class AMOLED panel is higher than expected, there are some who believe that additional investment for A3 line could be for hybrid structure that can switch between rigid and flexible rather than flexible exclusive line.

 

There is much focus on how Samsung Display’s mass production and supply plans for general class AMOLED panel will affect the AMOLED industry growth.

 

General Class AMOLED Panel Applied Smartphone Released Until August 2015

General Class AMOLED Panel Applied Smartphone Released Until August 2015