Samsung (SSNLF, SSNGY) says it has sold 10M+ Galaxy Note 3 units (measured in terms of of channel sell-in, rather than end-user sales) since the 5.7" phablet went on sale on Sep. 25.
The figure highlights the burgeoning size of the phablet market, whose growth has been fueled in part by strong Asian demand. It comes in a year that has seen sales of Samsung's flagship Galaxy S4 fall short of initial expectations, and a host of rival OEMs launch phablets of their own. Samsung tries to differentiate its Note line via its proprietary S Pen and related apps.
Universal Display (OLED) and Synaptics (SYNA) are among the companies that benefit from strong Note 3 sales.
Meanwhile, South Korea's ET News reports (translation) Samsung has lowered its 2014 smartphone shipment target to 330M units from a prior 360M. The new figure represents expected growth of just 14%, or less than the 20% growth forecast by IDC.
South Korea's ET News reports (translation) a "premium" version of Samsung's (SSNLF, SSNGY) Galaxy S5 will feature a 5" curved display and a metal case, while a standard model will have a flat display and plastic case. Initial production volumes for the S5 are reportedly set for January, but mass production won't start until February-March.
Samsung recently launched the Galaxy Round, a phone with a curved 5.7" display, in limited volumes. The electronics giant argues curved displays are more durable, offer better viewing angles, and (for large phones) are easier to grip than flat ones.
The S5 is also said to feature an ultra high-res display (previous), a 64-bit ARM CPU (Apple just put one into the iPhone 5S), a 16MP camera, 3GB of RAM, and (take this one with a grain of salt) a massive 4,000 mAh battery.
S4 component suppliers that could benefit from an early S5 launch include Synaptics (SYNA), Universal Display (OLED - would also benefit from a higher-res screen), Anadigics (ANAD), and RF Micro (RFMD).
S4 sales started off strong, but failed to meet lofty expectations due to a demand shift towards cheaper Android phones. The S5 will face competition from a slew of Chinese firms offering Android phones with high-end specs and mid-range pricing.
Universal Display (OLED) will supply Philips with phosphorescent OLED materials for use in solid-state lighting applications. (PR)
Universal has already struck OLED lighting deals with several Asian OEMs. Though still at a very early stage in its development, OLED lighting is expected to emerge as a rival to LED lighting in time. The technology's proponents argue it offers thickness, energy efficiency, and temperature benefits over alternatives.
A European Patent Office panel has revoked Universal Display's (OLED -6%) '238 patent, which had been upheld in a lower EPO ruling. The patent covers organometallic iridium device architectures (relevant to OLEDs), and was challenged by Sumitomo, Merck, and BASF. (PR)
Universal asserts the ruling is "erroneous," and says it "may seek to file a petition to review the matter." The company also says it has a pending European patent application in which it "intends to pursue substantial patent coverage that is similar to that provided in related patents that have previously been issued in the other jurisdictions."
Universal obtained favorable patent rulings from the EPO and the Japanese IP High Court last month.
In spite of rough reviews, Samsung (SSNLF, SSNGY) says sales of its $299 Galaxy Gear smartwatch have topped 800K, exceeding internal expectations. However, it's worth noting Samsung typically measures sales based on sell-in to retailers/distributors, rather than sell-through to consumers.
Compared with Samsung's mobile phone sales, Gear shipments are still a drop in the ocean. IDC estimates Samsung shipped 115.4M phones in Q3 (24.7% share), of which 81.2M were smartphones (31.4% share).
Separately, a Samsung patent filing has been made public that depicts a "bended display" wrapping around a phone's side. Samsung argues such a display, which might be included in a phone launching 2H14, would make it easier to read information at an angle, as well as provide more screen real estate.
With the company's efforts to differentiate via software clearly a work in progress (in spite of big investments), Samsung continues to invest heavily maintaining a display tech edge. In addition to wrap-around displays, the company is working on foldable and ultra-high-res displays.
Whereas its current phone display resolutions top out at 1080p, Samsung wants to launch phones with 2560x1440 displays in 2014, and 4K (3840x2160) displays in 2015. Many are skeptical about the value of having such resolutions on a 5"-6" display, but if Samsung goes through with its plans, it should be a positive for Universal Display (OLED), given more of its OLED materials will be needed to support higher resolutions.
In addition to soundly beating Q3 estimates, Universal Display (OLED) is now guiding for 2013 revenue of $142M-$144M, well above a $128.1M consensus.
Q3 materials sales totaled $30.3M, +12% Q/Q and +176% Y/Y. Green host and emitter sales, which were also up strongly in Q2, are said to be responsible for the growth. Samsung has been making heavy use of OLED's green host/emitter materials in its high-end smartphones.
With Samsung's license payments taking place in Q2 and Q4 ($20M in each quarter), royalty/license revenue was only $1.5M, up from $0.4M a year ago.
Materials gross margin (closely watched) was 67.7%, down from 69.4% in Q2 and 90% a year ago. R&D spend -4% Y/Y to $7.9M, SG&A +22% to $6.4M.
The Japanese IP High Court has reversed the Japanese Patent Office's invalidation of the broad claims in a Universal Display (OLED) patent. The JPO will now take a second look at the matter. (PR)
Universal asserts the patent in question is one of 60+ covering "four early fundamental phosphorescent OLED inventions." The high court's ruling comes two weeks after Universal announced the EPO had affirmed "the basic inventions and broad patent coverage" of a patent being challenged by Sumitomo, Merck, and BASF, albeit while narrowing the scope of the original claims.
TheStreetSweeper on Twitter: "TheStreetSweeper announces new short position in $OLED and imminent release of its next report on a brand-new company today."
Universal Display (OLED -3.3%) has fallen in response to the disclosure. TheStreetSweeper took aim at the company back in 2011, criticizing insider selling and the terms of the Samsung deal (among other things).
Samsung (SSNLF.PK, SSNGY.OB), by far Universal Display's (OLED +3.7%) largest customer, says it has begun mass-producing a 5.7" 1080p flexible OLED panel, and soon plans to launch a phone that makes use of them. A variant of the Galaxy Note 3 (has a 5.7" 1080p display) is a good possibility.
OLED-Info.com estimates the manufacturing line being used by Samsung can produce a few hundred thousand flexible 5.7" panels per month.