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© ams OSRAM
Analysis |

Micro LED Apple Watch production faces significant changes

In a surprising twist, LED giant ams OSRAM has called off a significant Micro LED collaboration with Apple, casting substantial uncertainty on the launch of the much-anticipated Micro LED version of the Apple Watch as its sole chip supplier.

TrendForce notes that the original suppliers for the Apple Watch included ams OSRAM for Micro LED vertical chips from its 8-inch factory in Malaysia and South Korean panel giant LG Display for the glass driving backplane and mass transfer processes. Now, with the partnership dissolved, the 2026 debut seems increasingly out of reach.

The Micro LED Apple Watch is currently navigating through troubled waters, according to TrendForce. First off, supply chain scarcity is pushing Micro LED panel costs sky-high, potentially 2.5 to 3 times higher than similarly sized OLED panels. Secondly, ams OSRAM’s smaller Micro LED vertical chips — while cost-saving and beneficial for redundancy design — demand higher transfer precision, posing another critical bottleneck for mass production. Thirdly, Micro LED still lacks a dedicated driving architecture, leaving Micro IC or TFT solutions unresolved.

However, all hope is not lost. According to TrendForce, there are three reasons why Apple’s venture into Micro LED technology could still flourish. For starters, Taiwan and South Korea boast a robust lineup of manufacturers for Micro LED chips, backplanes, and related transfer processes, who are ready to fill the gap and offer Apple an opportunity to seek new supply chain partners.

Secondly, Apple’s commitment to Micro LED innovation is evident in its extensive patent portfolio, which ranges from integrated display and sensor elements and flexible displays built on Micro LED. Abandoning these innovations could contradict Apple’s consistently emphasized values. Lastly, as a new display technology in the spotlight, Micro LED’s potential extends beyond watches to applications in head-mounted AR devices, remaining an innovative new technology for Apple’s medium to long-term product diversification strategy.

Micro LED technology is currently at an early stage of development. The involvement of industry giants like Apple significantly contributes to driving positive advancements across the sector. Notably, the integration of Micro LED into products such as watches could emerge as a flagship application within the next 2 to 3 years. With potential shipments reaching millions of units, this development is poised to play a crucial role in shaping the future of the industry.


For more information visit TrendForce.


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April 15 2024 11:45 am V22.4.27-2
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