Samsung invests $3.6 billion in OLED technology

Samsung may hope that a boost in OLED panel production can offset weak smartphone sales.

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Samsung is planning to invest 4 trillion won ($3.6 billion) into organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panel manufacture.

The South Korean electronics giant will make mainly medium and small OLED displays, according to a Samsung Display spokesman who spoke to Reuters on Tuesday.

The $3.6 billion investment in the new product line will be made from 2015 - 2017.

In addition, Samsung is expected to begin building a $15 billion chip plant in South Korea over the coming year.

According to analysts, it is likely the OLED display line is intended for curved screens such as those found on Samsung's Galaxy Note Edge. Bloomberg reports that Samsung's upcoming flagship model, the next Galaxy smartphone, will come in two styles -- and one variant will be equipped with a dual curved-edge display which covers three sides.

Samsung has recently suffered a drop in smartphone sales, resulting in the need to explore fresh revenue streams and to diversify the business -- including the development of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, smart television sets and appliances.

See also: Samsung SmartTV eavesdropping flap overblown

According to IDC's latest report on smartphone shipments and sales, Samsung is losing ground against rivals such as iPad and iPhone maker Apple. The research agency says Apple "just fell short" of taking over the South Korean firm's top spot in global smartphone shipments over the last quarter.

This week, Samsung formed an independent innovation group with the main aim of working on high-tech products and emerging technologies. The team, led by Samsung mobile chief Shin Jong-kyun, will develop technology in the virtual reality, robotics, 3D printing, robotic telepresence, drone and autonomous vehicle fields.

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