Cost remains a key factor in ensuring LCD is the display of choice for most handsets.
But a report from ABI Research suggests a number of new and not-so-new display technologies are vying for a chunk of LCD’s vast market share.
It points out that since LCD is a mature technology, it has a cost advantage that ensures its future as the primary display technology for some time to come.
But while LCD displays have improved greatly over the years, their performance still falls short in a number of key areas such as power consumption and readability in bright light conditions.
Kevin Burden, ABI’s research director, said this is where new technologies are looking to capitalize.
He said that Organic Light-Emitting Diodes (OLEDs) could be the ones most suited to take on LCD.
“Of the challengers OLEDs are among leading contenders because of the maturity of their development and their use in other devices, such as televisions, which will strengthen their supply chain,” he said.
Samsung recently announced plans to introduce a mobile handset on the consumer market with an active matrix (AM) OLED display.
The SCH-W690 is a clamshell design HSDPA handset that will be introduced initially in the Korean market.
Its significance is the incorporation of a 2.6 inch AMOLED screen with a resolution of 240×320 pixels and 262k colors.
In contrast to OLEDs, the ABI report suggests that Qualcomm’s micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS)-based “mirasol” display is finding its first role in secondary screens found on clamshell handsets.
In 2009 Qualcomm will open a dedicated mirasol display factory in Taiwan which is a major step towards ramping up its supply chain.
E-Ink, the “electronic paper” display in Amazon’s Kindle, is also targeting the handset market.
Though it is physically robust and boasts very low power consumption, E-Ink’s current lack of color handling and low refresh rate may limit its immediate appeal, but also has opportunity as a phone’s secondary display.
However all these displays face one big hurdle: they cost more than LCD displays.
The enormous volumes in the mobile phone market means that even a differential of a few cents can make the difference between adoption and rejection.
Over time, though, prices will fall and as Burden notes: “It’s a long road ahead for these new display companies, but even a niche in the handset market could prove very profitable indeed.”