Chinese display maker, BOE, has been trying to enter Apple’s supply chain. However, the company has failed on two attempts. Nevertheless, recent reports out of China claim that BOE has finally passed Apple’s certification and will start supplying OLED panels to iPhone 12 products in the near future. According to the report, it will supply displays for the iPhone 12 as early as this month. This is quite strange considering that the last time BOE failed Apple’s verification is just last month. Initially, there were reports that BOE Display must now wait until the first half of 2021 to retry to reach a supply agreement. However, it appears that it does not have to wait that long.
With the addition of BOE, the number of display suppliers for Apple is now three. BOE joins Samsung Display (2017) and LG Display (2019). For Apple, it is still looking for more options to boost its supply chain. According to industry chain information forecasts, Samsung will supply 130 million OLED panels for iPhone in 2021. BOE and LGD forecast 10 million and 40 million, respectively. BOE’s internal iPhone OLED panel shipments in 2021 are higher than market forecasts.
BOE’s Vice President, Chang Cheng, predicted at the Mianyang Science and Technology Expo in September this year that the global flexible OLED panel market will reach $49.7 billion in 2024, and BOE hopes to account for 40%.
BOE factories had production issues
According to reports, BOE’s plant in Chengdu, Sichuan Province was facing production problems. This is one of the reasons why the company failed to get Apple’s validation earlier. The company’s factory in Mianyang also suffered the same fate in June this year, because the yield rate was as low as about 20%. According to the report, Apple’s review of Chengdu began in September, but only lasted a month, and ended in failure in October.
BOE’s B11 and B7 manufacturing lines will compete with each other
After its initial failure, there were reports that BOE will try to simultaneously authenticate with B11 and B7 lines in the second half of this year. The B7 has been supplying panels mainly to Chinese smartphone makers such as Huawei. However, with the increasing ban on Huawei by the U.S., BOE certainly needs new customers.
BOE’s B11 and B7 lines will compete with each other. The nationality and personal composition of the two factories are also different. The president of the B11 plant is Taiwanese while the president of the B7 plant is Chinese. In its earnings release last month, BOE said that B11 produced 4 million of the 16 million flexible OLED shipments in the first half of the year.
Apple is giving LG Display and BOE a chance to lower its dependence on Samsung Display in the iPhone OLED panel. With BOE in Apple’s supply chain, the number of partners increases to three, and Apple can lower the cost of parts.