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Nanotechnology Report

The Business Case for OLED Lighting

Category: Transport, Energy & Environment Published: Dec 2010 View Contents
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Electronic copies include a five user licence. Contact andrew.stewart@nano.org.uk for more information.

With new companies entering the OLED lighting business seemingly every month, it is increasingly vital to go beyond the hype and identify why the world really needs OLED lighting and how the manufacturing and marketing of OLED lighting can generate new business revenues.

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Is the sudden rise of the OLED lighting business just a reaction to the fact that the developed world is phasing out incandescent bulbs leaving a gap that other types of lighting can fill, or is there more to it?

This timely report begins by identifying the factors that create mass markets for new lighting technologies, providing a guide to what OLED manufacturers will have to achieve before they can move beyond the current low-volume “designer lighting” phase. As part of this task, this report considers not just the general illumination market, after which OLED lighting makers are mostly chasing, but also the business case that can be made for using OLED lighting in architectural and automotive lighting. In each of these segments it takes a look at how OLED lights can compete with other lighting types, especially LED and fluorescent lights.

OLED lighting manufacturers currently target high-priced luminaires, while proclaiming a day in the not-so-distant future when OLED lighting will in some sense “replace” incandescent bulbs and florescent tubes; products that are currently sold at throwaway prices. But how the lighting manufacturers get from here to there, is the proverbial “elephant in the room” in the OLED lighting community. In this report, we set out what it will take to turn OLEDs into the “light bulb of the future,” including design, performance and pricing considerations. And with regard to pricing, we examine how consumers will adapt to pricing based on total cost of ownership models and which segments of the user population will adapt to it fastest.

By while the long-term hope for large revenues coming out of the OLED lighting sector may well be by addressing garden variety lighting applications, OLED lighting also makes interesting promises in terms of novel features that may lead to quite new kinds of products. For example, OLEDs can be tunable, flexible and exceedingly thin; all features that are sure to appeal to lighting designers in a number of different lighting markets. What is not so clear is the degree to which these features will appeal to consumers in the lighting market or how they can best be sold.

This report analyses all of the above issues and establishes the business case for OLED lighting in its various addressable markets. It is based on our ongoing program of personal and telephone interviews in the OLED lighting space, as well as our companies extensive database of information in this space; we were the first industry analyst firm to cover the OLED lighting space. We have also drawn on OLED lighting market forecasts, which are updated regularly.

We believe that this report will be extremely useful to planners and strategists throughout the lighting industry, as well as OLED firms themselves, along with investors.