Micro-LED Apple Watch Ultra project is unlikely to have been cancelled


Ah, the joys of Apple supply-chain reports. Two reports yesterday said that Apple’s micro-LED Apple Watch Ultra project was apparently cancelled, based on a statement by an Apple display supplier.

Doubt was expressed about this conclusion, and today Ming-Chi Kuo has chimed in with his own view …

Micro-LED Apple Watch Ultra

Apple is so far still in the middle of transitioning to its third display technology:

  • Originally, it used LCD with conventional backlighting
  • Then it moved on to LCD with mini-LED backlighting
  • The Apple Watch and iPhone currently used OLED
  • With iPad and MacBooks to follow

But the company’s next step after OLED is expected to be micro-LED. This will provide improved brightness, color accuracy, longevity, and power efficiency. In particular, it doesn’t suffer the same burn-in problem as OLED.

As with OLED, it’s easier and more affordable to start with the smallest displays, so the Apple Watch is expected to be first in line for micro-LED. Specifically, there have been multiple suggestions that the first model to get the upgrade will be an Apple Watch Ultra.

We’ve seen a great many predicted dates for a micro-LED Apple Watch Ultra, ranging from 2024 to 2027.

The cancellation reports

What we know for sure is this: A company called AMS Osram said that big micro-LED project on which it was working was abruptly cancelled by the client.

A cornerstone project underpinning its micro-LED strategy got unexpectedly cancelled today, triggering the company to re-assess its micro-LED strategy.

It has been suggested (but is not known for certain) that the company was set to be a micro-LED supplier to Apple, and that the likely first product would an Apple Watch Ultra model.

This was interpreted by two Apple sites to imply the cancellation of a micro-LED Apple Watch Ultra model. Apple Insider said that the project “might be dead,” and MacRumors that it was “seemingly cancelled.” But Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman expressed doubts.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has today chimed in on the side of the pessimists.

9to5Mac’s Take

We didn’t run with the story yesterday as it seemed to us to be highly speculative.

A company which may or may not have been a future Apple supplier, and which may or may not have been the company’s sole planned micro-LED partner, has a project cancelled by a client who may or may not have been Apple, and which may or may not mean the whole micro-LED Apple Watch Ultra plan has been abandoned.

We’re only doing so now because Kuo throwing in his view gives the story more traction – in particular suggesting that Osram was Apple’s sole planned supplier, and that Apple has laid off people from the development team.

That’s a long way from talking about the project being cancelled, however. Long-term, micro-LED will take over from OLED, and the Apple Watch will almost certainly be the the first Apple product to get the upgrade, and given that it’s currently an expensive tech it’s certainly likely that it would first be introduced in an Ultra model.

At most, then, this means that the product variously predicted to launch in 2024, 2025, 2026, and 2027 will instead launch at a later date.

Update: TrendForce has weighed in, pointing out that Osram is not the only potential supplier:

TrendForce remains optimistic citing three compelling reasons why Apple’s venture into Micro LED technology could still flourish. For starters, Taiwan and South Korea boast a robust lineup of manufacturers for Micro LED chips, backplanes, and related transfer processes, who are ready to fill the gap and offer Apple an opportunity to seek new supply chain partners.

Photo by Mariia Shalabaieva on Unsplash

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.




Ah, the joys of Apple supply-chain reports. Two reports yesterday said that Apple’s micro-LED Apple Watch Ultra project was apparently cancelled, based on a statement by an Apple display supplier.

Doubt was expressed about this conclusion, and today Ming-Chi Kuo has chimed in with his own view …

Micro-LED Apple Watch Ultra

Apple is so far still in the middle of transitioning to its third display technology:

  • Originally, it used LCD with conventional backlighting
  • Then it moved on to LCD with mini-LED backlighting
  • The Apple Watch and iPhone currently used OLED
  • With iPad and MacBooks to follow

But the company’s next step after OLED is expected to be micro-LED. This will provide improved brightness, color accuracy, longevity, and power efficiency. In particular, it doesn’t suffer the same burn-in problem as OLED.

As with OLED, it’s easier and more affordable to start with the smallest displays, so the Apple Watch is expected to be first in line for micro-LED. Specifically, there have been multiple suggestions that the first model to get the upgrade will be an Apple Watch Ultra.

We’ve seen a great many predicted dates for a micro-LED Apple Watch Ultra, ranging from 2024 to 2027.

The cancellation reports

What we know for sure is this: A company called AMS Osram said that big micro-LED project on which it was working was abruptly cancelled by the client.

A cornerstone project underpinning its micro-LED strategy got unexpectedly cancelled today, triggering the company to re-assess its micro-LED strategy.

It has been suggested (but is not known for certain) that the company was set to be a micro-LED supplier to Apple, and that the likely first product would an Apple Watch Ultra model.

This was interpreted by two Apple sites to imply the cancellation of a micro-LED Apple Watch Ultra model. Apple Insider said that the project “might be dead,” and MacRumors that it was “seemingly cancelled.” But Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman expressed doubts.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has today chimed in on the side of the pessimists.

9to5Mac’s Take

We didn’t run with the story yesterday as it seemed to us to be highly speculative.

A company which may or may not have been a future Apple supplier, and which may or may not have been the company’s sole planned micro-LED partner, has a project cancelled by a client who may or may not have been Apple, and which may or may not mean the whole micro-LED Apple Watch Ultra plan has been abandoned.

We’re only doing so now because Kuo throwing in his view gives the story more traction – in particular suggesting that Osram was Apple’s sole planned supplier, and that Apple has laid off people from the development team.

That’s a long way from talking about the project being cancelled, however. Long-term, micro-LED will take over from OLED, and the Apple Watch will almost certainly be the the first Apple product to get the upgrade, and given that it’s currently an expensive tech it’s certainly likely that it would first be introduced in an Ultra model.

At most, then, this means that the product variously predicted to launch in 2024, 2025, 2026, and 2027 will instead launch at a later date.

Update: TrendForce has weighed in, pointing out that Osram is not the only potential supplier:

TrendForce remains optimistic citing three compelling reasons why Apple’s venture into Micro LED technology could still flourish. For starters, Taiwan and South Korea boast a robust lineup of manufacturers for Micro LED chips, backplanes, and related transfer processes, who are ready to fill the gap and offer Apple an opportunity to seek new supply chain partners.

Photo by Mariia Shalabaieva on Unsplash

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.


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