Although for now, the company is making only small numbers of screens, which will be used for testing purposes, as per a new report from Bloomberg. The screens use different compounds than the organic light-emitting diode, or OLED displays that Universal provides.
The report says that Apple indeed nearly killed the project about a year ago, and there are still many challenges ahead, and scaling up such production technologies is never easy. Smartphones and other gadgets have been using off-the-shelf display technology.
The secret initiative, code-named T159, is being run by Lynn Youngs, who helped develop touch screens for the original iPhone and iPad and now oversees iPhone and Apple Watch screen technology. More specifically, the focus is on producing MicroLED screens like those recently produced by Samsung to form the 146-inch modular TV launching in August. The 62,000-square-foot manufacturing facility is very near to the Apple Park campus in Cupertino.
Apple's interest in this next-gen MicroLED technology is not new.
According to Bloomberg, the display tech is being developed for an upcoming Apple Watch. This might take a couple of years to happen. The decision to scale back efforts in Taiwan makes sense now as the company wanted to move the development process closer to its headquarters.
Sony Corp started selling large display systems using the technology for corporate users past year, and Samsung Electronics Co unveiled a MicroLED TV this January. Engineers have since been making progress and the technology is now at an advanced stage, they say, though consumers will probably have to wait a few years before seeing the results. It would also be the latest example of Apple bringing the design of key device components in-house, the report points out.
Like Apple, Samsung has also been developing MicroLED displays for a while now. Samsung, one of the biggest OLED makers, is already having problems looking for buyers now that Apple is reportedly cutting iPhone X orders in half. Executives recently approved continued development for the next two years, with the aim of shipping MicroLED screens in products.
Display makers in Asia fell after Bloomberg News reported the plans.
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