Bloomberg News

Samsung Plans to Start Selling OLED TVs in Second Half

May 10, 2012

Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), Asia’s biggest electronics maker, aims to start selling televisions using organic light-emitting diodes in the second half as it seeks to gain leadership in the next-generation TV market.

Sales will start in South Korea before global shipments begin, Kim Hyun Suk, head of the company’s TV operations, said at a media briefing in Seoul today. The first models will cost at least twice as much as the most expensive flat-screen sets of comparable size, he said.

Samsung and its closest rival, LG Electronics Inc. (066570), are racing to introduce TVs equipped with new features and display technology to lure consumers and beat an industrywide demand slowdown. Flat-screen TV prices in the U.S. jumped 11 percent in the first four months of this year, helped by demand for high- end sets with sharper images and which can connect to the Internet, according to IHS Inc. (IHS:US)’s iSuppli.

Operating profit at Samsung’s TV-making unit rose to 530 billion won ($465 million) in the first quarter from 8 billion won a year earlier. Samsung had a record market share in the U.S. LCD TV market in the fourth quarter, accounting for about 25 percent of total shipments, according to iSuppli.

Samsung and LG are turning to next-generation display technology using OLEDs, which allow sets to be as thin as 4 millimeters (0.16 inches) and produce sharper images than current liquid-crystal-display models. TVs using the technology can be thinner because they use organically glowing materials to display images without the need for separate backlights.

OLED Technologies

Shipments of OLED TVs may grow to 2.1 million sets in 2015 from 34,000 in 2012, according to El Segundo, California-based iSuppli.

By contrast, global TV shipments fell last year for the first time since 2004, according to DisplaySearch, part of NPD Group. Flat-screen TV shipments in the U.S. may fall for the first time this year, to 37.1 million units from 39.1 million in 2011, according to iSuppli.

Samsung and LG employ different OLED technologies. Samsung uses red, green and blue OLED materials inside individual pixels to create images, while LG uses white light and an extra color filter.

Samsung’s method can be more energy-efficient and show a broader range of colors, according to Paul Semenza, senior vice president of analyst services at Santa Clara, California-based DisplaySearch. The technology requires greater accuracy and consistency, making manufacturing harder than LG’s approach, he said.

While Samsung is open to different approaches in the long term, the models to be sold this year will be based on its current technology, Kim said today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jun Yang in Seoul at jyang180@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at mtighe4@bloomberg.net


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