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LG expects to sell 1.5M OLED panels in 2016

LG Display expects to move 600,000 OLED panels in 2015 and 1.5 million in 2016, the company CEO said, with the promise to be leaders in OLED screen technology.

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LAS VEGAS -- "Since we already cemented the foundation in processes, technology, production and product line-up for OLED [in 2014], in 2015, our main aim will be popularization of the technology," said LG Display CEO Han Sang-beom, during a press conference on the sidelines of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. "That is why we created a new OLED division that will exclusively focus on developing, promoting and selling the technology."

"1.5 million panels may seem not much. But we are aiming for the high-end consumers, the two percent, which accounts to 4 million TVs. So ratio wise, having 1.5 million OLED TVs in that high-end market will draw attention to the technology," the CEO added.

Han said Japanese display makers' alliance, JOLED, and Chinese players were all showing signs of preparing to invest heavily in OLED and that the crucial goal of the company will be maintaining its tech edge over rivals. "It's just a matter of time before OLED becomes more widespread, and there will be followers. In LCD, South Korean companies followed Japanese companies, now lead in the market. In OLED, we will lead from the start," the CEO said.

LG Display is also showing off a 98-inch 8K display. The company is close to shipping 8K resolution displays to buying clients. It will launch its own commercial model within the first half of this year, while client TV makers are planning to launch their products in the second half. Sources told ZDNet Korea that the company also has a 55-inch 8K model, and is planning to show it to clients during and after CES.

LG Electronics, LG Display's big brother and biggest client, has set a dual-track strategy for this year to both promote OLED and LCD TVs, while highlighting the former. Han says rather than each impeding on the other, the technology will be in "friendly competition" which will speed up innovation for each.

Han also took subtle shots at arch-rival Samsung, who unveiled its new premium TV brand SUHD, which uses Quantum Dot LCD technology. "QD is just one of many ways, such as using color filters and LED packaging, a way to increase color resolution range," said the CEO, while admitting that OLED currently had a range of 115 (QD LCD TVs have 130) and plans to increase it to the same level as its counterparts.

The company is ready to start rolling out foldable displays as soon as clients began to order them. For plastic OLED displays, aimed at wearable design, LG has secured a major client both in the US and South Korea, though Han declined to name the companies.

LG is also enjoying a close relationship with Chinese start-up Xiaomi. The CEO said LG sold 5 million displays to Xiaomi and expects closer ties going forward. Xiaomi is expanding its product lineup to TVs and home appliances.

LG also unveiled new curved OLED displays aimed at automobile clients in a private booth. The company declined to name potential buyers but said it was meeting with "major players" that are attending CES. "Most of our clients are preparing for a 2020 release in innovative smart cars. We already have 80 percent of clients locked down."

Han and LG Display executives are to meet all potential buyers for its wide array of new displays including curved In-plane switching panels for monitors and 3:2 ratio panels for tablets.