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Organic LEDs chip away at edges of LED market

Market expected to grow tenfold to around $26 million in 2020, says IHS

While OLED products have been available for some time, their comparatively high price has resulted in low shipment quantities. With recent advancements in OLED technology, however, interest in OLED lighting is rising, according to the latest research note from IHS.

The market for OLED panels is currently estimated by IHS to be around $2.7 million, but expected to grow tenfold to around $26 million in 2020. (That is still 500 times smaller than the current LED market, which is worth about $10 billion).

Fast technical development of the product is the main reason for the projected OLED market growth, says Mike Hornung, IHS' market analyst for lighting and LEDs. Historically, the main drawbacks of OLED lighting products were their huge manufacturing costs. A comparable LED fixture costs significantly less than the OLED equivalent, and even with all the advantages OLEDs possess, they just couldn't compete with LEDs in applications such as general lighting where the look and feel of the product was not the most important procurement consideration.

Over the past few years, developments in OLED technology have reduced average selling prices for OLED panels - a situation that is expected to continue. The average selling price of an OLED panel in 2013 was just under $31; however, prices are expected to fall by at least 40 percent over the next seven years.

In terms of efficiency, lifetime and brightness, it will continue to be difficult for OLED lighting to compete with LED lighting; however, OLED has advantages in light quality, panel weight, heat distribution and stylistic effects. As prices fall, however, shipments of panels are forecast to increase dramatically.

It is important to remember that as OLED technologies are rapidly developing, LED technologies are too. The prices of LEDs are still falling, and luminaire manufacturers are thinking of new ways of using them. Historically, OLEDs have held a stronger value proposition over LEDs in light quality, surface emission and other key functional areas. Continuous development of LEDs could soon challenge OLED in these areas, and it can be argued that they already do. 

In all probability LEDs will remain significantly cheaper, more efficient and longer lasting than OLEDs, and that means LED will remain the mainstream technology for the foreseeable future. Despite ongoing market growth, OLED will not be able to match the many benefits of LED, before the next new technology comes along.


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