Tide goes in, tide goes out. Following many months of constantly hearing how the iPhone X would break record after record for both sales and profits, helping Apple and Samsung make more money than we could wrap our heads around, forecasts have suddenly taken a turn.
Analysts clearly overestimated the impact a single mobile device could have had on a largely saturated market, but while a certain demand slowdown always seemed inevitable, no one expected iPhone X popularity to fall off a cliff so fast.
That apparently includes Samsung, which may have abandoned OLED production expansion plans as a direct cause of the “all-screen” handset’s “lackluster” sales. The world’s top smartphone vendor and OLED panel supplier also “lowered the operation rate of the A3 plant by 10 percent in January compared to the same period last year”, and that definitely had something to do with the iPhone X.
Located in China, the massive factory normally yields around 135,000 “sixth-generation” OLED displays a month these days, a large majority of which go to Apple. But for the first time in years, “full-capacity production” reportedly took an unplanned hit as orders from the chaebol’s arch-rival/long-time ally dropped.
Unless iPhone X sales magically recover over the next few months, industry sources anticipate “weaker earnings” for Samsung this year, especially as LG looks to strengthen its supply chain position for those three 2018 upgrades.
Yet another report earlier this week hinted at an OLED production split for the 6.46-inch iPhone X sequel, as LG could supply a (small) part of those jumbo-sized displays. LG Chem is widely expected to manufacture all the L-shaped batteries needed for the two or three next-gen OLED iPhones, and down the line, Samsung’s domestic foe could play a truly pivotal role in Apple’s industry-revolutionizing plans.
For its part, Samsung is trying to convince various Chinese smartphone makers to adopt its OLED technology, thus hoping to offset losses caused by a contraction of the Apple partnership.