Speaking at the Global Technology Summit, executives from Samsung's Mobile Display sector, who have their finger very much on the pulse of where the industry and consumer demand is trending, said that the future belongs to clever, large touchscreen displays. It's important for Samsung to correctly divine such trends, as it costs quite a pile of beans to set up a fabrication plant for certain types of displays, and an incorrect investment could cost the company big-time.
So these are not only wise words from Samsung, but bold too: The smartphone market is likely to explode by up to 50% in this year alone, the company thinks—a leap from 175 million devices sold in 2009 to 260 million units by the end of 2010.
That's a trend we've heard about before, but not with such a big number tacked on to it. A growth rate like that, if sustained, could easily and quickly upend the cell phone market, which as we know is still dominated by older-tech dumbphones that typically lack large screens. It's also enough of a trend for Samsung to invest more than $2 billion over the next two years in a new AMOLED production plant, which will be the world's biggest one, riding on the back of ever-bigger interest in OLED tech for devices (the market grew some 35% last year).
This kind of investment underscores Samsung's certainty that OLED will replace LCD technology in cell phones and other portable devices like media players or game consoles—and that's interesting, as it makes us wonder if that swanky rumored high-res display on the upcoming iPhone 4 is OLED or the same high-grade IPS LCD that Apple chose for the iPad. Of course Samsung don't provide screens for Apple's iDevices (they come from, among others, LG) but competition in the OLED market is certainly heating up—and being driven by OLED-touting phones like Google's NexusOne.