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China-based LED chip maker San'an Optoelectronics has made better-than-expected progress in developing mini LED, putting it in a good position to compete with Taiwan-based fellow maker Epistar for mini LED backlighting applications to be used in Apple's iPad and MacBook in 2021, according to analyst Kuo Ming-chi at China-based TF International Securities.
Sanan in early 2020 reportedly estimated that it lagged behind Epistar for about one year in mini LED development, expecting to begin trial production of mini LEDs at the end of 2020, have them certified in second-half 2021, and likely obtain orders from Apple in 2022.
Apple reportedly will adopt mini LED backlighting for iPad Pro initially with Epistar to be the sole supplier, according to industry sources.
As Apple is likely to seek a second or more suppliers of mini LED chips to reduce supply risks, Sanan is a likely choice in 2021, Kuo noted.
But the industry sources said even if Sanan can start mini LED production in 2021, yield rates will be crucial to whether it can obtain orders from Apple.