LG Electronics is going all-in on OLED, the next-generation TV screen technology, announcing on Friday that it's investing $8.71 billion in a plant that will build the ultra-clear panels.
At the plant, the South Korean company mainly will make big panels for televisions but also will build flexible panels for smartwatches and car displays. Production is expected to begin at the plant in the first half of 2018, the company said.
The plant, called P10, is huge. It'll cover the same area as 14 football fields and measure 100 meters high -- about 30 stories.
An investment in OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screens is a bet that consumers will want better image quality. TV aficionados love the deep blacks and bright whites that OLED panels produce even in sunny rooms -- CNET's David Katzmaier said LG's OLED-powered TV "had the best picture I'd ever seen." OLED technology has been prohibitively expensive, but with more money being poured into building OLED and more panels available on the market, that could change.
LG reported an upturn in TV sales when it published its last set of financial results in October, and on Thursday announced that it is restructuring company leadership to give each of its individual businesses more autonomy. The company will make use of the new OLED panels itself as well as selling them to other TV makers.
The market for OLED panels is expected to grow to $29.1 billion in 2022 from $8.7 billion in 2014, according to market research firm IHS. LG is hoping to place itself right in the center of this growth.
"LG Display's investment in P10 Plant is a historical investment for the industry since it will not only help expand the OLED market but also accelerate the development of future display technologies," said LG Display President and Chief Executive Sang Beom Han. "With the active support of the Korean government, we believe the P10 plant will become the center of the global OLED industry."