SID Display Week Key for Staying Informed

This year, I’m celebrating my 21st SID Symposium(*) attendance without missing one.

SID Display Week LogoIn an article on the Display Week microsite, I look back to the LCDs that were shown in Orlando in 1995, when the event was very different. My 1995 report did not include any reference at all to any Taiwanese, Korean or Chinese company. All the companies that we reported on were from the US, Japan and Europe and that will be very different this year.

For most of the last fifteen years, the event has been overshadowed by the Korean LCD giants, Samsung and LG. They have shown some great technology and they have dominated the LCD business. I have written before about the changes in the display industry with the shift from LCD to OLED. From a market share point of view, LCD has been phenomenally successful; it has driven out, or pushed into niches, dozens of competing technologies. It has been argued (at length in Joe Castellano’s 2005 book), that the success of the LCD business was because so much was shared between the various LCD makers in materials, techniques, equipment and standard formats.

The downside of this sharing (much of which was done at events including SID Display Week) was, as David Barnes has explained, that it has been very, very difficult to generate profit over the long term.

The need to actually generate a return on the huge investments needed to be in the flat panel display supply chain has meant that companies involved in developing the only significant competitor to TFT LCD, AMOLED, have been very secretive about what they are doing. At SID, a few years ago, it was notable that Samsung, after years of showing some fantastic new technology and developments, suddenly stopped showing anything except shipping products. It was rumoured that Samsung executives had decided that too much was being given away by showing new technology at the event. That has really reduced the impact that the company has made on delegates, in my view.

Anyway, the technology industry abhors a vacuum and if Samsung doesn’t want to show its new and exciting technology, there are others that do want to. In particular, in the last couple of years, companies from China such as Tianma and BOE have started to take over the space previously occupied by Samsung. This year, TCL of China will be giving the opening keynote after BOE presented last year. Samsung last keynoted in 2013 (when Brian Berkeley of Samsung was SID President which may, or may not, have been a coincidence!).

I’m really looking forward to this year’s event. The first event I normally attend is the business conference, and this is a great chance to get a real sense of the state of the industry. After that, I will be at specialist events (such as the Investors Conference) or on the exhibition floor.

Having met with Tianma at MWC, I know the company will show some good looking OLEDs. BOE will be back after making a big splash last year as did AUO, which is returning after its first show floor appearance in 2014. China Star will be exhibiting for the first time. Samsung, LG, JDI, Sharp, Kopin, E Ink and Qualcomm will be showing new display devices.

I’m looking forward to seeing the material makers – Corning, 3M, Merck, Asahi, UDC, Novaled and others as well as those with new technology such as the quantum dot suppliers and ITO replacement materials.

Sharp UltraHD OLED Shown at SID in 2012 – Click for higher resolution

There is also a wide range of companies that integrate the displays into systems and enhance the displays from Rockwell Collins to ELO.

Last year, Ostendo was one of the stand out companies in the Display Week iZone (Steve is going to talk about this zone tomorrow) – there are always some really interesting things to see in this area. This year, Ostendo will be on the show floor. We’re hoping and expecting to see some really new developments in micro LED displays and (a particular interest of mine) quantum dot displays (where the quantum dots are electrically stimulated rather than simply converting light).

Finally, I will be looking forward to getting to the author interviews each day, if I can. This is where you see the prototypes and hand-made displays discussed in the technical paper presentations. It’s always a great opportunity to see the products that might be available in years to come. I vividly remember seeing in 2001 the first 13″ Sony OLED sample. In 2012, Sharp showed a 13.5″ UltraHD OLED, but every year there is something worth seeing.

Display Daily will have six reporters at the event, so if you have something that you want to talk about or show us, do contact me, but hurry, we already have a lot of meetings booked.


*Google lists one of the definitions of a symposium as “a drinking party or convivial discussion, especially as held in ancient Greece after a banquet (and notable as the title of a work by Plato)”. That definition works for me!