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Wide color gamut technology emerging as a key requirement for high-end displays

23 May 2016 David Hsieh

With the growing adoption of wide color gamut solutions in the high-end display market, wide color gamut technology is emerging as a key requirement for premium displays.

According to the latest IHS Wide Color Gamut Market Tracker, display industry leaders Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics have chosen wide color gamut technology as a major selling point for their premium displays and are looking to become the first movers in the high-end display market with differentiated wide color gamut solutions. Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays that are already used commonly in the smartphone market are driving the growth of the wide color gamut display market. In the meantime, TVs with quantum dot (QD) and OLED technology are increasingly entering the TV market and are a core display market segment.

Companies are considering applying wide color gamut solutions to monitors and notebook PCs, so the wide color gamut display market is expected to grow continuously to a 27% share of the total display market on an area basis in 2021.

Despite being unaware of wide color gamut technology, consumers are already familiar with wide color gamut displays. For instance, those who are using smartphones by Samsung Electronics, a leader in the OLED smartphone market, are experiencing the technology first hand. LG Electronics has also launched diverse advertising and promotional campaigns highlighting the superiority of OLED TVs over the past years. LG Electronics believes that these efforts have helped consumers perceive OLED TVs as premium products.

Wide color gamut technology is most widely adopted in the smartphone market, with OLED holding an overwhelming market share among wide color gamut solutions. Thanks to its self-emitting property, OLED is superior in terms of color reproduction. Samsung Display is attempting to expand the supply of OLED displays to Chinese smartphone makers in addition to its major customer Samsung Electronics, so the adoption of wide color gamut displays is expected to grow further in the smartphone market.

Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, the world's number-one and number-two TV makers, have chosen wide color gamut as a major selling point. They are promoting the technology in an attempt to dominate the high-end TV market; for example, Samsung Electronics is promoting QD TVs in 2016, claiming that wide color gamut solutions are essential for premium TVs. In fact, the company has used QD in its premium ultra-high definition (UHD) TVs since 2015.

LG Electronics boasts of its OLED TVs as the best wide color gamut displays. The company has made significant efforts to increase OLED TV sales with continuing advertising campaigns and improved price competitiveness. In addition, LG Electronics is providing a wide range of sales promotions to familiarize consumers with OLED TVs while offering warranty services for the relatively expensive TVs.

According to the IHS Wide Color Gamut Market Tracker, aside from OLED and QD, technologies like light-emitting diode (LED)-LED packages and color filters-have been improved by panel makers. LED solutions are still deemed the most competitive wide color gamut technology in terms of production cost. LED TVs have failed to attract the attention of consumers in the past, probably because of high prices and low interest in color reproduction. Nowadays, however, phosphors with high purity and high performance are being applied to mass-produced products, and considerable improvements have been made in terms of color reproduction. Therefore, there has been growing adoption of LED solutions in the mid-range TV, monitor, and notebook PC market where price competition is especially fierce.

Furthermore, along with wide color gamut solutions, high dynamic range (HDR) technology began to be used as a selling point in the TV market in 2015, receiving favorable responses from consumers. The growing attention to new technologies like HDR will also likely contribute to the expansion of the wide color gamut display market.

Simply put, driven by three factors-improved understanding among consumers, enhanced technologies such as OLED and QD, and marketing campaigns focusing on premium displays-the wide color gamut display market is forecast to grow steadily. The share of wide color gamut displays hovered around 3% in 2015, but it is projected to be 27% of the total display market in 2021. Wide color gamut technology will become a key requirement in the high-end display market.

David Hsieh is Director of Analysis & Research within the IHS Technology group
Posted on 23 May 2016

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