Apple Inc is developing its own MicroLED device displays and has made small numbers of the screens for testing, Bloomberg reported, in a move that could hurt Asian display suppliers to the U.S. tech giant over the long-term.
MicroLED is a new display technology that has grabbed the attention of several tech firms. Screens using MicroLED are thinner, brighter, use less power and are more durable than the OLED displays that are increasingly being adopted for a variety of smart devices.
The new technology is however unproven and difficult to use, analysts say.
“It is not clear whether MicroLED will be better than the OLED displays Apple uses for its smartwatches. At this point, this seems to me that Apple wants to show off it’s more of what look what we can do rather than a realistic alternative,” said Dongbu Securities analyst S.R. Kwon.
Apple is developing MicroLED screens at a secret plant in California in a project overseen by Lynn Youngs, who is in charge of iPhone and Apple Watch screen technology, Bloomberg said, citing people familiar with the matter.
The company aims to use the new technology in its wearable computers first, the report said, adding that it is unlikely to reach an iPhone for at least three to five years.
Apple declined to comment.
Shares in Asian display makers initially slid on the news on Monday but later pared losses. Shares in Sharp Corp, Japan Display Inc and LG Display Co Ltd ended the day between 1.6 percent and 2.4 percent lower.
Other tech giants looking at the technology include Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, Apple’s main contract manufacturer. It acquired U.S. MicroLED display startup eLux Inc last year through Sharp Corp and other group units.
Sony Corp started selling large display systems using the technology for corporate users last year, and Samsung Electronics Co unveiled a MicroLED TV this January.