Google has reportedly offered to invest around $880 million US (1 trillion won) in LG’s Display division in an apparent bid to make sure it gets the supply of displays it needs for the next Pixel phone. According to the Electronic Times (via Reuters), the lack of a steady supply of OLED panels was one of the main reasons why Google has had such a hard time shipping the current Pixel phone.
Google has apparently realized that if you’re trying to break into the phone hardware business, you should probably find a way to make and sell phones to people who want to buy them. Who knew?!
Google’s reported investment isn’t a straight purchase order for screens, rather a “strategic relationship” designed to ensure that LG Display has the capital it needs to produce flexible OLED panels at scale, according to ET. Though it’s probably safe to assume that Google will get guarantees of supplies as part of the deal.
The part of the deal that everybody’s paying attention to is the “flexible” part of the “flexible OLED” equation. Samsung has been using screens that bend around the body of the phone for some time now and everybody assumed the next iPhone will as well. I’m less sure that it’s a lock that Google will do the same on the next Pixel. Heck, Google hasn’t even committed to using the Pixel brand on its next phone. But if it doesn’t find a way to reduce or remove bezels this fall (when we expect Google to ship another phone), it’s going to be a pretty bad look.
We’ve reached out to Google for comment and it said that it “doesn’t comment on rumor or speculation.”