Apple Watch Ultra is not the only micro LED project Apple has cancelled

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited March 1

Following AppleInsider's report on Thursday about the likely cancellation of the Apple Watch Ultra with micro LED, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that Apple has abandoned nearly all of its plans to use micro LED displays.

Apple Watch Ultra
Apple Watch Ultra



Following news that the micro LED Apple Watch Ultra 3 may be dead, Ming-Chi Kuo is reporting why he believes it's happened. He also names ams Osram as the supplier, which was previously only suspected and not confirmed by either party.

"My latest investigation indicates that Apple has canceled the development plan for the Micro LED Apple Watch," wrote Kuo on Twitter/X. "The reason is that Apple believes that Micro LED cannot significantly increase the added value of the product, and the production cost is too high, making it uneconomical to invest."

Kuo further says that Apple has laid off many people from its micro LED development team. This team was working on more than the Apple Watch Ultra, and he adds that there is no sign of any further micro LED devices being worked on.

There appear to be some oddities in Kuo's reporting, starting with how he claims that ams Osram cancelled its contract with Apple. Assuming Kuo is correct about which supplier is involved, it appears that the reverse was true -- and brutal.

The CEO of ams Osram, while saying only that an unnamed client had cancelled, told press that "the shock is still deep."

Second, Kuo describes the cancellation as "undoubtedly a major setback for Apple." It's only a setback for ams Osram -- which reportedly has built a purpose-made $1.41 billion factory in Malaysia to service Apple.

Kuo argues that this is a setback because Apple wants to use improved displays to make the Apple Watch Ultra more competitive. But this directly follows his saying Apple doesn't think micro LED can add enough value to the Apple Watch Ultra to make it worth the investment.

Apple was bringing micro LED to more devices



The advantages of micro LED over other display technologies such as OLED, is that it's much thinner, consumes less power, and are brighter in outdoor conditions. They're also able to be used on curved or foldable surfaces.

Consequently, while it was believed that the Apple Watch Ultra would be the first Apple device to get micro LED, previous reports claimed that it would come later to the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

The cancellation is a smaller-scale repeat of Apple's ending of its Apple Car project. While Apple hasn't spent ten years on the micro LED display for the Watch, it has invested time and seen multiple delays over it.



Rumor Score: Possible

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,213member
    https://appleinsider.com/articles/14/05/02/apple-acquires-luxvue-a-power-efficient-micro-led-maker---report"
    (Gosh, I forgotten all about the product related Apple Sapphire)

    In 2014 Apple acquired Luxvue Technology, a startup company that developed Micro-LED based displays. Since then, Apple sped up its MicroLED R&D project, and until recently was well into developing solutions for smartwatches, AR, and other types of displays for Apple products, basing from a dedicated microLED research and production facility in Taoyuan, Taiwan.

    “Apple has spent at least $1 billion on the R&D and samples for micro-LED technologies in the past nearly 10 years. It wants to secure more control over the next-gen display technologies for its future products.”

    It's been a long and winding road.

    I think sometimes it takes so long to develop a technology that by the time they're getting close to something being ready the market has already moved on. Apple Car and Apple Watch micro-led display might be examples, both of which have been rumored for a decade. 

    edited March 1 nubus
  • Reply 2 of 10
    XedXed Posts: 2,544member
    gatorguy said:
    https://appleinsider.com/articles/14/05/02/apple-acquires-luxvue-a-power-efficient-micro-led-maker---report"
    (Gosh, I forgotten all about the product related Apple Sapphire)

    In 2014 Apple acquired Luxvue Technology, a startup company that developed Micro-LED based displays. Since then, Apple sped up its MicroLED R&D project, and until recently was well into developing solutions for smartwatches, AR, and other types of displays for Apple products, basing from a dedicated microLED research and production facility in Taoyuan, Taiwan.

    “Apple has spent at least $1 billion on the R&D and samples for micro-LED technologies in the past nearly 10 years. It wants to secure more control over the next-gen display technologies for its future products.”

    It's been a long and winding road.

    I think sometimes it takes so long to develop a technology that by the time they're getting close to something being ready the market has already moved on. Apple Car and Apple Watch micro-led display might be examples, both of which have been rumored for a decade

    Or it could be that the R&D resulted in answers that made the over/under less than ideal for adding to a product. Let's remember that R&D stands for research and development, not ready and done. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 10
    charlesncharlesn Posts: 833member
    This story both does and doesn't make sense. Sure, I get the idea of not moving ahead with something because it doesn't add enough value to the product. But the benefits of MicroLED are practically tailored to the specific needs of the Ultra: better battery life, which currently lags FAR behind major competitors... brighter in outdoor lighting, where the Ultra presumably sees a lot of use... and it's a much thinner display, which could either mean slimming the considerable thickness of Ultra OR having extra room for other sensors, a bigger battery, etc. Either way, it's a win. So how does Apple conclude this doesn't add enough value? I own an Ultra and actually can't think of another single component that would add more value--not to mention addressing the main continuing criticism of it, which is battery life. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 10
    hammeroftruthhammeroftruth Posts: 1,309member
    charlesn said:
    This story both does and doesn't make sense. Sure, I get the idea of not moving ahead with something because it doesn't add enough value to the product. But the benefits of MicroLED are practically tailored to the specific needs of the Ultra: better battery life, which currently lags FAR behind major competitors... brighter in outdoor lighting, where the Ultra presumably sees a lot of use... and it's a much thinner display, which could either mean slimming the considerable thickness of Ultra OR having extra room for other sensors, a bigger battery, etc. Either way, it's a win. So how does Apple conclude this doesn't add enough value? I own an Ultra and actually can't think of another single component that would add more value--not to mention addressing the main continuing criticism of it, which is battery life. 
    Could be that enough people buy it to convince the powers that be to not spend more money on displays if most people won’t notice a significant difference?  

    After seeing the release of VP, it doesn’t make sense that all of a sudden Apple is price conscious on bleeding edge tech.  Could also be that they have figured how to get more battery life out of existing technology, so why go to mico LED?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 10
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 2,241member

    Are we seeing a shift in the Apple that we know? One that happily buys off-the-shelf components rather than pushing for better?

  • Reply 6 of 10
    Let hope Apple still keeps working on those solid state batteries and not kill of that project.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 10

    Are we seeing a shift in the Apple that we know? One that happily buys off-the-shelf components rather than pushing for better?

    Err … no. 

    What are seeing is a company that evaluates components and decodes if they should or shouldn’t use them. You know, what Apple has always done. 
    Xedwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 10
    It seems more reasonable to conclude that the quality is not currently good enough, yields are not good enough, or it's still too expensive to produce. It's not that it wouldn't add value IMO, it's that it might not add sufficient value relative to the added cost. Ultra is somewhat of a premium product, at least relative to the regular Apple Watch, but it's still priced far below a lot of luxury watches so they might well feel there's only so much they want to increase the price this year or next. This could still be added down the road. I don't think any analyst can really tell us with any certainty that Apple has given up on a technology altogether forever....
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 10
    michelb76michelb76 Posts: 618member
    gatorguy said:

    I think sometimes it takes so long to develop a technology that by the time they're getting close to something being ready the market has already moved on. Apple Car and Apple Watch micro-led display might be examples, both of which have been rumored for a decade. 

    I doubt the market has moved on, I'm thinking Apple doesn't want to make the watch even more expensive, and they won't reduce margins. I would not be surprised if hardware features on some devices will stagnate.
  • Reply 10 of 10
    charlesncharlesn Posts: 833member
    charlesn said:
    This story both does and doesn't make sense. Sure, I get the idea of not moving ahead with something because it doesn't add enough value to the product. But the benefits of MicroLED are practically tailored to the specific needs of the Ultra: better battery life, which currently lags FAR behind major competitors... brighter in outdoor lighting, where the Ultra presumably sees a lot of use... and it's a much thinner display, which could either mean slimming the considerable thickness of Ultra OR having extra room for other sensors, a bigger battery, etc. Either way, it's a win. So how does Apple conclude this doesn't add enough value? I own an Ultra and actually can't think of another single component that would add more value--not to mention addressing the main continuing criticism of it, which is battery life. 
    Could be that enough people buy it to convince the powers that be to not spend more money on displays if most people won’t notice a significant difference?  

    After seeing the release of VP, it doesn’t make sense that all of a sudden Apple is price conscious on bleeding edge tech.  Could also be that they have figured how to get more battery life out of existing technology, so why go to mico LED?
    The Ultra 2 was essentially the Ultra 1 -- not a huge surprise for an all new model, but Apple needs something to differentiate the upcoming Ultra 3 and Micro LED seemed like the perfect hardware bump for the reasons I listed above. Also, as I mentioned, there are significant benefits to every millimeter you can free up for other uses in a tiny case like that of a watch, so the thinner display of micro led seemed to be a real advantage. I love my Ultra, it's one of my fave Apple products ever, but I do wonder how well it's selling. You see Ultra on sale far more often than the regular Apple Watch, you still see Ultra 1s on sale from time to time and it's not all that often that I see other Ultras in the wild. 
    edited March 3 watto_cobra
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