Bendable Smartphones Usher The Future of Touchscreens
by Justin Dove, Investment U Research
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Nokia (NYSE: NOK) set the blogging world on fire this week with its demonstration of its bendable smartphone prototype called "Kinetic." Nokia hinted that the super-durable phone could be released some time in 2012.
According to the reports from the Nokia World 2011 conference in London, the device's flexibility would not only make the phone durable enough to resist damage, but could also serve as a way to control it. For example, a user could zoom out on an image by bending the phone back and vice versa for zooming in.
But Nokia wasn't the only company to make such an announcement.
Samsung (OTC: SSNLF.PK) one-upped the Finnish company by announcing that it was releasing a bendable Super AMOLED phone in 2012, "hopefully the earlier part," according to Samsung Vice President Robert Yi.
Below is a peak at Samsung's prototypes:
Samsung first displayed this technology around this time last year, but rollable OLED screens have been in the pipeline for some time.
A Floppy Phone Revolution
It made a ton of news in the tech world as "the first rollable OLED screen," but many people didn't realize that it was already done - four years prior.
And while Nokia and Samsung may be obvious benefactors in a flexible OLED touchscreen boom, Universal Display Corp. may be a sleeper.
UDC Spells Leader in OLED
UDC, which claims over 1,200 issued and pending patents in OLED technology, announced a deal with Samsung in August to provide its state-of-the-art OLED display products. The announcement sent UDC's stock up almost 25 percent.
Among UDC's state-of-the-art products is its UniversalPHOLED screen technology. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad fans may recognize UniversalPHOLED technology as the screen technology employed in the iPad 2.
Even further, UDC is pushing deals in other areas besides touchscreens. It has deals with LG (NYSE: LPL) subsidiary LG Chem, Panasonic (NYSE: PC) subsidiary Electric Works and Konica Minolta (OTC: KNCAF.PK) in providing technology for OLED lighting - a technology that could eventually replace light bulbs.
Most importantly for bendable phones however, UDC has FOLED technology, which stands for flexible OLED.
While it's hard to imagine bendable phones already becoming available next year, it certainly seems like a reality with the recent news from Samsung and Nokia.
Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) even offered a peak into its vision of 2019 where every surface is a touchscreen.
Considering OLED is more energy efficient, lightweight and durable than other display technologies used today, it certainly looks like it will ride the tablet and smartphone boom for years to come.
In May, Alexander Moschina of Wall Street Daily claimed UDC is "set to become the world's largest supplier of touchscreens... in not one, but two of the world's fastest-growing industries."
UDC failed to generate a profit so far, but analysts expect it to find the black next year. Brigantine Advisors analyst Darice Liu told Barron's in August that shares were "worth $56, based on a discounted cash flow model," - a 27-percent premium to its price on Wednesday afternoon.
Regardless of the exact numbers, it certainly looks like UDC has a 'bright' future.