Chinese Panel Maker BOE Aims To Conquer New Global Markets

- Sep 25, 2017 -

CHENGDU, China -- Chinese tech giant BOE Technology Group already is one of the world's largest makers of liquid-crystal display panels. Now it aims to expand its reach by becoming a global leader of organic light-emitting diodes, or OLED, display panels.

This month, at its OLED-display factory in Chengdu, the company will begin commercial mass-production of OLED panels for smartphones.

"We're expediting our final push for our first shipment in late October," a BOE executive in Chengdu said. WhileChinacelebrates its National Day holiday week in early October, engineers at the factory, known as B7, will continue working to ship panels to smartphone makers inChina. The road for this state-owned company, which is managed by the Beijing city government, has been a long one.

BOE entered the market for this growing area of computer displays in late 2001 when it acquired the OLED-display operations of Hydis Technologies, which at the time was owned by Hynix Semiconductor (now SK Hynix) ofSouth Korea.

BOE initially used South Korean technology but eventually developed its own. In 2011, the company built its first -- as well asChina's first -- OLED-display plant in Ordos  City, in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Developing the production technology proved challenging. BOE began mass-producing OLED glass panels on a production line shared with LCD panels in 2014. In 2015, it focused on OLED panels for its new plant in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, and two years later established the B7 factory.

The OLED panel market is expanding rapidly.U.K.research company IHS Markit projects that OLED panels with a value of $21.6 billion will be shipped globally this year, up 53% from 2106. It says that the market for OLED panels for smartphones will roughly triple over the next five years, while the market for LCD panels will fall 14%.

Analysts say OLED will be one of the main drivers of display-panel growth in the coming years.

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