Philips Out Of OLEDs. Is Going Flexible The Right Strategy?

According to Dr Khasha Ghaffarzadeh, OLEDs are taking too long to reach their promised potential. And I have to agree. Four years ago I attended a workshop hosted by Dietmar Thomas at the Philips Lumiblade creative lab in Aachen, Germany. During the workshop, lighting designers, luminaire manufacturers and other creative minds got a hands-on experience of OLED light as a material and some of the new design possibilities that the technology could bring. The holy grail of flexible sheets that could form organic shapes seemed within our grasp in the not too distant future. But first, Philips focused on high brightness and inflexible glass to glass production. At the time, it was predicted that by 2015 we would be designing luminaires with commercially available  OLED technology as a normal occurrence and the future of lighting would be OLED.

Philips Brite OLED

Philips Brite OLED

Clearly, this isn’t the case (yet) and despite investing a further €40 million in 2012, OLEDs have not delivered what Philips were expecting. At the time, Rene van Schooten, General Manager of the Lamps business at Philips Lighting said “This additional investment in the OLED production facility at Aachen will strengthen Philips’ leadership in bringing lighting innovation to the market, enhancing our ability to offer customized and innovative OLED lighting applications.”
Fast forward to today and Philips have decided to divest themselves of the OLED unit. Over the coming months, Royal Philips will establish a new legal entity and transfer key parts of its OLED business, including the production facility at Aachen, and relevant intellectual property, into it. All shares of the new entity will subsequently be sold to US start-up OLEDWorks, officials said. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. “In pursuance of our strategic focus we have decided to divest our OLED components development and production to a specialized partner. This will enable us to focus our business and resources on developing innovative connected lighting systems and services for professional and consumer markets.” said Eric Rondolat, CEO Philips Lighting. “Philips sees the merit of OLED as a light source for specific applications in its systems and services portfolio and will continue to apply OLEDWorks’ panels in its finished products.”

Philips is not the only company to revisit its OLED strategy and subsequently decide to divest. Panasonic also decided to cut its losses and pull the plug on its OLED manufacturing operation, leaving LG Chem and Konica Minolta as the main players still in the game.You can read more about that at:

By Julie Allen

22 May