Samsung to Build OLED HDTVs

Reports from last week’s FPD International 2007 Forum quote Samsung’s executive vice president as saying that he expects to have 42″ OLED HDTVs for sale by 2010. Naturally, this has caused a bit of excitement on the Web, especially as this would be a huge step from the tiny 11″ OLED TVs that Sony is expected to sell in tiny quantities at incredibly high prices by the end of this year or early next year. Can Samsung deliver on this promise?

Probably not. Samsung has been successful at building small OLED displays for mobile phones and other little portable devices. The Samsung VP also said that they plan to produce OLED panels up to 7″ in 2008, up to 21″ in 2009, and then the 42″ units in 2010. That’s an extremely aggressive development schedule, especially since there are plenty of material and production challenges facing companies trying to build large format OLED panels.

There’s no question that OLEDs can look gorgeous, and they are unbelievably thin. Sony’s 11″ panel is just 3 mm thick, which is less than 1/8″. But we’ve heard promises about breakthrough display technologies before. Remember that Canon promised that large screen televisions using SED technology would be in commercial production “next year”, but the problem was that they made the promise year after year and now it’s doubtful that the technology will ever come to the mass market.

Maybe Samsung is just trying to psych out the competition, but making promises such as these is a risky business. If they don’t hit their targets, they lose credibility. So as much as I’d love to be able to buy a large OLED HDTV in a few years, I’m not going to start holding my breath.