However, it appears that Tai Jeng-wu, the recently installed CEO of Japanese display maker Sharp, didn’t get that memo. While speaking to a group of students at Tatung University over the weekend while receiving an honorary doctorate, Tai stated, "The iPhone has been evolving and now it is switching from LTPS (low-temperature poly-silicon) to OLED panels.”
Those comments aren’t exactly shocking, as Apple has been widely expected to make the shift to OLED panels in 2017. But it is shocking to see these comments come from one of Apple’s trusted suppliers. We usually have to wait for the flurry of component leaks (which generally pick up steam in the spring) to receive this kind of information.
Even more bizarrely, Tai seemingly criticizes Apple in the very next breath, adding, "We don't know whether Apple's OLED iPhones will be a hit, but if Apple doesn't walk down this path and transform itself, there will be no innovation. It is a crisis but it is also an opportunity.”
Tai went on to say that Sharp is expanding its OLED capacity with a new manufacturing facility in Japan, and even has the capability of bringing production capacity stateside. "If our key customer demands us to manufacture in the U.S., is it possible for us not to do so?" said Tai.
Apple currently use OLED panels sparingly, with the most notable examples being the Apple Watch/Apple Watch Series 2 and the Touch Bar used in the new 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros. However, switching its flagship iPhone family over to OLED would mark Apple’s biggest bet yet on the display technology.