Reasonably Sized OLED TVs Stalled By Our Crappy Economy

When consumer budgets are tight, companies tend to back off the horrendously priced luxury goods. But according to the OLED Association, it's not poor consumers that are holding up new, bigger OLED sets—it's poor manufacturers.

Ars interviewed Barry Young, Managing Director of the OLED Association, and managed to get a pretty good read on where the OLED industry is, and more importantly, where it's headed. The nebulous long term projections about OLED dominance still stand, but the short term prospects are, in a word, shitty. Here's why:

Some major manufacturers have gotten to be pretty good at building the small OLED TVs we're used to seeing. Samsung is about to introduce a 14.1-inch pipsqueak to go against Sony's 11-inch wonder midget, and prices for these mini-sets should start dropping soon enough. Unfortunately, these small OLED screens are the largest functional television displays anyone is capable of mass-producing right now.

Sparing you the mind-numbing technical details (those here), manufacturers are being faced with two equally unattractive (read: expensive) options for building TV-sized OLED TVs, like the one Samsung showed off last year: either devise an entirely new manufacturing process, which would require the invention of new techniques and machines for fabrication, or pursue a different type of OLED panel. Both options would circumvent the current size restrictions, but both options are extremely expensive.

In the current climate, companies like Samsung can't be certain that such risky investments will pay off fast enough, and for the time being, investment capital is scarce. Answering a question about Samsung's plan for a 32" OLED set, Young could only say this: "How soon Samsung will do their next generation will be affected by the downturn." In other words, sorry 2009. And 2010. [Ars via OLED-Display]