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Apple Watch Ultra with microLED display said to be cancelled

By Shawn Tan - on 4 Mar 2024, 9:07am

Apple Watch Ultra with microLED display said to be cancelled

Apple reportedly ditched plans to bring microLED to the Apple Watch Ultra.

Following the cancellation of its electric car project, Apple might have cancelled plans for another key product – the Apple Watch Ultra with a microLED display.

Apple supplier ams Osram revealed in its press release that "a cornerstone project underpinning its microLED strategy got unexpectedly cancelled". While discussions with the customer are ongoing, ams Osram says it will re-assess the microLED display strategy.

Although ams Osram did not reveal the name of its customer, many believe that it is Apple. Furthermore, Display Supply Chain consultants shared with MacRumors that the cancelled project is related to the Apple Watch Ultra with microLED display.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo followed up with his own report claiming that Apple has indeed cancelled the microLED Apple Watch projects. Kuo revealed that the microLED display production costs are too high to make the product economically viable.

Kuo added that Apple has retrenched employees from the microLED team and there appears to be no microLED-related project in the pipeline. Since ams Osram is a key supplier of microLED displays, Kuo believes the cancellation of the "cornerstone project" suggests that there would not be any plans to scale up production of microLED display devices in the near future. 

However, Mark Gurman of Bloomberg doubts that Apple has cancelled plans for an Apple Watch Ultra with microLED display. Gurman states that ams Osram was just one of the many suppliers in the Apple Watch microLED project, and the re-assessment of its microLED display strategy did not affect Apple.

Gurman might be right as there have been many reports over the years about Apple's commitment to develop microLED displays as the next display technology to use in its products.

Apple acquired LuxVue, a company which specialised in low-power, microLED screen technologies, in 2014. Four years later, Bloomberg revealed that Apple was developing its own microLED displays at a secret facility. In the same year, Taiwan-based firm PlayNitride was rumoured to be working with Apple in the microLED market. In 2020, sources told Focus Taiwan that Apple was investing in a new plant to make miniLED and microLED displays.

Last year alone, there were three reports detailing Apple's microLED display efforts. The most notable came from Nikkei Asi, who said that Apple was increasingly involved in the production of microLED displays and had spent at least $1 billion in R&D.

Bloomberg asserted that Apple is nearing the launch of its own microLED display after 6 years of development and the company's ultimate goal is to use the new display panel on all its key products including the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

In December last year, TrendForce identified ams Osram and LG Display as the two main suppliers of microLED components for the future Apple Watch Ultra model. 

Compared to the Apple Car project which was cancelled after a troubled journey of 10 years, the Apple Watch Ultra with microLED display appears to have better prospects and is therefore unlikely to suffer the same fate.

Source: ams Osram, @mingchikuo, @markgurman via MacRumors

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