The flexible display market is expected to surge to over $200 billion within five years, opening the door to “radical new product concepts,” according to Futuresource Consulting.
This group of products includes smartphones which unfold to become tablets, adjustable curved TVs and pop-up presentation screens. Futuresource said that the industry is in a phase of ‘limited flexibility’, commonly referred to as ‘conformed displays’. Displays may be shaped, but are normally supported in situ with limited, if any, manipulation available to the end-user. Current examples of products within this category include curved TVs and Samsung’s ‘Edge’ mobile devices.
However, fully flexible devices will be viable within the next one to two years, allowing repeatedly foldable or rollable screens. New materials and design processes will drive innovation and, in some cases, completely new usage models.
“The CE market is likely to lead the way with over a quarter of all new smartphones by 2026 featuring flexible screens, which among other attributes will render them unbreakable,” Futuresource said. “As manufacturing costs reduce, the potential for bespoke signage and pull-down whiteboards are some of several commercial B2B applications to be realised.”
David Tett, market analyst at Futuresource Consulting, said: “The value of products involving flexible displays will surge to more than $200 billion within five years and approach $300 billion within a decade. This strong growth is anticipated due to the range of product benefits it creates from increased robustness, design differentiation and ease of display manufacturing customisation through to new applications such as e-paper, e-fashion and home appliances.
“‘Unbreakable’ products will become a reality, reducing the need for manufacturers to handle returns and service, while bespoke signage will be easier to produce and could offer users the added benefits of adjustability and reuse.”
He added: “Technology is advancing from first generation displays which have been flexed during the manufacturing process to be curved but are not able to have their shape manipulated by the end-user, toward a second-generation product… It remains to be seen which designs enabled by flexible displays will appeal to the market, but attributes like increased robustness and ease of customised manufacturing will drive vendor adoption regardless.”
Key growth areas will include flexible displays, e-paper, flexible sensors, flexible batteries and stretchable electronics, and will likely result in the cannibalisation of devices that traditionally feature larger screens, such as tablets, by smaller devices with foldout or rollable screens.