MicroLED Apple Watch Ultra Project Potentially Loses Another Supplier

The rumored microLED Apple Watch Ultra project may have lost another key supplier, according to Display Supply Chain Consultants CEO Ross Young.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 hero feature white
In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday, manufacturing equipment company Kulicke & Soffa said that one of its "strategic customers" has canceled a project related to the "advanced display" market:

Previously referred to as Project W, the Company has been engaged with one of its strategic customers (the "Customer") to support the Customer with the development and future mass production of certain technologies relating to advanced display (the "Project"). In connection with the Customer's strategic review of its business, the Customer has informed the Company that it has cancelled the Project.

In a social media post on Monday, Young suggested that "Project W" was potentially related to the microLED Apple Watch. The company said it expects to incur charges of up to $130 million as a result of ceasing operations related to the project.

Kulicke & Soffa's website advertises a "next generation LED die transfer" system for microLED and miniLED displays with "an unprecedented transfer rate at high precision."

Earlier this month, Apple supplier AMS-Osram similarly announced it would "re-assess its microLED strategy" after a "cornerstone project" was "unexpectedly cancelled." Young believes that project also related to the microLED Apple Watch, so there are now at least two major suppliers that have indicated they are no longer involved.

Both Display Supply Chain Consultants and Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believe that Apple has outright canceled the microLED Apple Watch project for now, but other sources like Bloomberg's Mark Gurman and DigiTimes have cast doubt and believe that Apple has or is actively seeking alternative suppliers for the project.

In any case, a microLED Apple Watch Ultra appears to remain several years away at a minimum.

Related Roundup: Apple Watch Ultra 2
Related Forum: Apple Watch

Top Rated Comments

MayaUser Avatar
2 weeks ago
Nobody is trusting Apple anymore after the "sapphire crystal "
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jz0309 Avatar
2 weeks ago
MicroLED has been a few years out for a few years and seemingly will remain a few years out for the next few years…
Whatever, my Ultra2 display is awesome and so is battery life…
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tomtad Avatar
2 weeks ago
I thought this had been added to the ever increasing pile of cancelled projects?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JPack Avatar
2 weeks ago

ELI5: Why is a micro LED watch a big deal over the current display? Battery life and/or brightness which are already really good?
Higher contrast ratio and brightness. 10-20-30x brighter.

Sounds great, except microLED's biggest challenge is power and heat especially in the PPI density of a Watch. This is why you see microLED TVs doing fine. You just need more power. But nobody is successfully miniaturizing it down to a wearable.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
StuBeck Avatar
2 weeks ago

I thought this had been added to the ever increasing pile of cancelled projects?
It has. This is just more confirmation that it isn't happening. It was pretty obvious it wasn't going to happen when it went from being a feature of the normal priced watch to only being in the Ultra.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
klasma Avatar
2 weeks ago

In an industry that's just spent a decade and billions of dollars attempting and mostly succeeding to perfect OLED, it's hard to imagine there is widespread motivation to suddenly replace it with something that lasts potentially orders of magnitude longer before needing to be replaced. Relatively niche applications like the watch notwithstanding, I do not expect to see MLED making waves in the consumer display market any time soon.
Longevity isn’t an issue, because the devices are obsoleted by software first.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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