Apple has taken over a laboratory in Taiwan previously used by Qualcomm in the development of so-called Mirasol display technology. Apple will reportedly use the laboratory to prepare for the switch to OLED screens in the near future, according to Bloomberg.
LCD and OLED research
Apple took over the laboratory in Longtan, Taiwan – about an hour’s drive from Apple’s manufacturing partner Foxconn – in April and now has at least 50 engineer working inside the building. According to sources, Apple will use the premises for display research but not production.
Apple has not confirmed the information.
The facilities used to belong to chip manufacturer Qualcomm, who used the lab to develop its Mirasol display technology. Mirasol is a reflective display technology that uses ambient light to create an image by utilizing small mirrors and filters. Qualcomm had hoped to use Mirasol in ebook reader products and position it as a better alternative than E-ink. Qualcomm has since abandoned the project.
Even though Apple has taken over the lab from Qualcoom there is little to suggest that Apple is interested in using Mirasol. A reflective display technology has very different characteristics compared to for example LCD and OLED. Bloomberg reports that the company is instead focusing on making LCD screens thinner, lighter, brighter and more power efficient. The company is allegedly also working on switching to OLED displays in the near future.
This is not the first time that we have heard about Apple’s interest in using OLED displays in more products than just Apple Watch. LG recently confirmed recently that they will invest $9 billion USD in a new OLED factory, which will be ready for mass production n 2018. Rumor says that a significant portion of the capacity will be dedicated to producing OLED displays for the iPhone.
Bloomberg says that Apple has recruited people from AU Optronics and Qualcomm. By developing display technology in-house Apple could become less dependent on manufacturers such as LG and Samsung and outsource production to more display manufacturers. That is how Apple designs CPUs.
At the moment only Samsung and LG can mass produce OLED displays.