July 11, 2017: OLED lighting is an emerging solid-state lighting technology. However, the OLED lighting market is a complex, highly fragmented space due to the existence of a broad technology mix and a diversity of customer needs. OLED lighting market segments include residential, office, industrial, outdoor, hospitality, shop and automotive. Each sector attaches a different degree of importance to upfront cost, energy efficiency, lifetime, light intensity, colour warmth and design features.
The challenge facing OLEDs is identifying paths for differentiation. This differentiation challenge is a critical strategy question as many companies already have a successful and growing business in the LED sector. Investment in OLED can provide a hedged bet and also a means of standing out in an increasingly commoditised LED market.
According to IDTechEx report, the market potential for OLED lighting across all major lighting sectors is immense. It forecast that the market will grow to US$ 2.2 billion in 2026. However, the market growth will be very slow until 2019/2020, where the overall sales at the panel level will remain below 200 million USD globally.
OLED lighting has the potential to efficiently emit warm light across large surfaces and to bring new and novel form factors into the lighting sector. These are strong selling points on their own but the challenge is in that they are not always unique. In particular, inorganic LED lighting has arrived first onto the market. Its technology, cost structure and supply base have dramatically improved, opening a large performance and cost gap between LEDs and the younger OLEDs. The performance gap has not drastically narrowed despite progress in OLEDs with companies such as Konica Minolta reporting champion 131 lm/W panels.
The challenge facing OLEDs is therefore identifying paths for differentiation. The differentiation challenge is also critical strategy question because many companies such as Osram and Phillips Lighting already have successful and growing business in the LED sector. Investment in OLED can provide a hedged bet and also a means of standing out in an increasingly commoditised LED market.
Surface emission is a possible differentiator although inorganic LEDs are also able to create effective surface emissions, despite being a point light source, thanks to waveguides. Flexibility is also another way although OLEDs themselves also face critical technology challenges that stand in the way of them achieving flexibility. However, the pressure building up in the value chain combined with commitments from large players such as Konica Minolta and LG Chem suggests these barriers are nearly resolved. The ability to offer customised or improved design features is also a selling point. In particular, the potential to act at the luminaire level as a slightly modified panel can be a competitive advantage.