iPhone LCD Supplier Japan Display Inc. Shifts to VR

Japan Display Inc. (JDI), a former key iPhone LCD display supplier has shifted its focus on the evergrowing industry of virtual reality in the midst of the smartphone sector relying more on OLED screens.

Since 2014, JDI has been a prime supplier of LCD displays for Apple and its annual iPhone lineup. In late 2019, JDI even began manufacturing displays for the Apple Watch. However, the decision to shift towards supplying OLED screens earlier created financial turmoil for the company, despite also receiving a $100 million investment from Apple in 2019. However, in a course correction for the company, JDI is now reportedly eyeing the VR industry and supply LCD displays, according to Bloomberg.
In the report, it’s said that JDI is expecting LCD displays to become the standard for VR as they can achieve high resolutions while maintaining a reasonable cost for consumers.
Although the VR market still remains quite a niche, many developers and publishers have remained determined to expand the ecosystem. Facebook released its Oculus Quest 2 in 2020, which has received a fairly positive reception. HP released its Reverb G2 in November of last year, though it remains on the pricier side. Sony is looking towards releasing a new iteration of its PSVR for the PlayStation 5. Although specs and a release date have not been set by the company, Bloomberg’s report says that Sony is aiming for a 2022 holiday release for the PSVR successor.

All this to say is that the VR industry is not slowing down, which is fortunate for JDI. Additionally, OLED suppliers also don’t seem to keen on focusing on VR as it currently remains a smaller market over smartphones. However, JDI is reportedly okay to fill in the gap. When speaking with Bloomberg, JDI’s VR chief Takeshi Harayama said, ​“It’s hard to find a VR headset maker who doesn’t have a relationship with us.”

It’s reported that JDI is looking to convince VR companies that it can solve two of the largest problems VR makers face, which are display quality and cost. VR headsets require a display that’s capable of rendering a high resolution. Otherwise, the user can see the individual pixels of the screen. However, typically when doing so, that drives up the price of the headset. JDI is able to produce LCD displays with 1,200 pixels per inch, according to Watanabe.

“I’m confident our technology on LCDs is at least two years ahead of others in the category,” Watanabe told Bloomberg.

Although JDI does not disclose its partners, the company expects revenue from non-mobile businesses, including VR, to grow 25 percent in the current fiscal year, up to 70 billion yen.

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