Outlook for Mini/Micro LED Technology in 2023

Mini/Micro LED has not yet been mass-produced. Although not in line with expectations, it is also expected. Fortunately, although mass production is still far away, the path to the other shore has gradually become clear. In 2022, under the headwind of the macroeconomic environment, the Mini/Micro LED industry will have sudden surprises to a certain extent, whether it is the technology and cost issues of the industrial chain, or the terminal application and demand issues.

The 6 major applications of Mini LED backlight are clearly distinguished


Among the new display technologies, Mini LED backlight is the first to have scale, and has now formed a relatively complete industrial chain covering equipment, materials, chips, devices, modules, and panels. Over the years, under the vigorous promotion of the brand and the industry chain, Mini LED backlight products have developed a wealth of application scenarios, including consumer electronics and IT products such as TVs, Monitors, notebooks, tablets, car displays, and VR smart wearable devices. Although the application scenarios are rich and diverse, not all Mini LEDs are the best choice.


For notebook and tablet applications, the development of Mini LED backlights is somewhat lacking in stamina. In these two application fields, Apple’s role as a weather vane is particularly obvious. It can be said that under the influence of Apple’s brand effect, Mini LED backlights have officially entered the two major application markets of notebooks and tablets. However, due to high costs, Apple has recently slowed down significantly. It has continued to introduce Mini LED backlights to notebooks and tablets. Meanwhile, the threat from OLED is growing.


OLED manufacturers have confirmed their investment in 8.5-generation OLEDs this year in order to achieve a higher level of economical segmentation of notebooks and tablets. As a result, the cost of OLEDs is expected to continue to decline, and Mini LED backlights may continue to be at a disadvantage. It is predicted that Apple is likely to adopt OLED screens on next year's iPad, which means that Apple's products will enter a period of drastic adjustment. In addition, after the adjustment of the 8.5th-generation OLED, there is also the possibility of using OLED for Apple notebooks in 2025. Under such a background, the development of Mini LED backlights on notebooks and tablets will be relatively conservative.


In TV applications, the threat of OLED to Mini LED is relatively less obvious. First of all, look at the volume of shipments. In 2022, the OLED TV market will encounter headwinds, with shipments of about 6.7 million units, an annual increase of only 0.5%. It is predicted that there may be a 0.7% decline this year, with shipments of about 6.3 million units. In contrast, Mini LED backlit TVs will ship 3.5 million units in 2022, an annual increase of 65%. It is estimated that Mini LED backlit TV shipments will reach 4.4 million units in 2023, an annual increase of about 26%.


Looking at the situation of LCD, it is still firmly established as the mainstream of TV panels and continues to widen the price gap with OLEDs. As a backlight, Mini LED improves the contrast, brightness and image quality of LCD TVs, which is equivalent to improving LCD TVs. competitiveness. In the long run, relying on the cost advantages of LCD panels, combined with the continuous breakthrough of its own technology and the gradual reduction of costs, Mini LED backlights will continue to penetrate the TV market.


In terms of monitor applications, OLED and Mini LED backlight displays are still in their infancy, and both have a lot of room for growth. However, in fact, the two are already different in some aspects, which is mainly reflected in the supply chain.


In terms of panel supply, OLED shares suppliers and production lines for TV and Monitor applications, that is, panels produced by LG’s 8th generation line are used, and production capacity is limited; while Mini LED backlight display supply chains are complete, especially in the domestic market. From last year's brand layout, according to data, domestic brands accounted for 39% of the global Monitor market shipments, and it is expected that this year's proportion may increase to 70%. In this context, domestic brands will have high efficiency in terms of product promotion and cost reduction, which is expected to drive the rapid penetration of Mini LED into the monitor market.


In terms of vehicle display applications, Mini LED has officially opened the market under the introduction of the American brand Cadillac, and Chinese brands have also spared no effort to speed up the process of Mini LED "onboarding". Qiu Yubin pointed out that the advantages of the LCD+Mini LED backlight solution in terms of reliability, brightness and contrast make it an ideal choice for vehicle display, which can meet the needs of driving safety and driving experience at the same time. In terms of market layout, Chinese and American brands take the lead, followed by European and Japanese brands. It is expected that after 2024-2025, Japanese and European brands will gradually join the layout camp of Mini LED backlight vehicle displays.

In terms of VR applications, with the release of Meta Quest Pro, the first VR device equipped with MiniLED backlight technology last year, the market's expectations for MiniLED backlight VR devices have increased. However, according to TrendForce's observations, the cost of the device itself is high, combined with the sensing element, the final price is US$1,649, so the market feedback is not as expected.

As far as Mini LED backlight technology itself is concerned, it is not yet competitive enough in the field of VR headsets. On the one hand, the current cost of Mini LED is still at a relatively high level; on the other hand, Mini LED is inferior to Micro LED in terms of thickness, light weight, and energy saving. Combining the two key factors of consumer purchasing power and wearing comfort, we hold a conservative view on the development of Mini LED backlights in this application field.


Post time: Sep-11-2023

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