Samsung, the world’s largest TV manufacturer, may be about to shift its strategy significantly to focus on OLED technology. Samsung has not produced OLED TVs in recent years, instead focusing on variants of LED LCD technology.
The news comes from a report by South Korean broadcaster MTN (South Korean news outlets, among others), stating that Samsung and LG reached a conditional deal under which Samsung would buy as many as 1 million OLED panels from LG this year and 4 million in 2022 MTN clarifies that the deal is not yet final, but says only a few details remain to be worked out.
LG produces most of the large-format OLED panels in the world, such as those used for TVs; the panels are used not only in LG TVs, but also in TVs sold by Sony, Panasonic and others. Samsung also produces OLED panels, but not in TV sizes. Samsung makes OLED panels for smartphones, and those panels use a different technology than what’s seen in LG’s OLED TVs.
If Samsung were to shift at least some of its high-end TV lineup to OLED, it would signal a seismic shift in the industry. In recent years, LG has dominated OLED television production (with a significant portion also sold by Sony), while the rest of the industry stuck with LCD panels, in part because in the past they were easier and more affordable to manufacture or manufacture. acquire.
In the past year, more companies (such as Vizio, for example) have started shipping OLED TVs. But LCDs still account for the vast majority of TVs shipped. However, OLED has made huge gains year on year.
Samsung has focused much of its product development and marketing efforts on embracing the advantages of LCD TVs over OLED (such as superior HDR clarity, lack of burn-in risks, and lower prices), as it competes fiercely with LG at the top end of the market. market.
Samsung has repeatedly positioned an emerging TV technology called Micro LED as the ultimate OLED killer. Micro-LED TVs are said to offer comparable peak brightness to LED TVs, as well as a reduced risk of burn-in compared to OLED, while still offering OLED’s main advantage in terms of picture quality: illumination per pixel and perfect black levels.
But it’s not until this year that the first Micro LED TVs start shipping for consumers, and Samsung has not yet managed to reduce Micro LED TVs to sizes suitable for most living rooms. The first wave of Micro LED TVs will measure 110 or 99 inches, although 88 and 78 inches are planned. And that’s not even talking about the costs; As expensive as OLED may be, it’s getting more affordable by the year, and Micro LED will be out of most consumers’ price ranges for a while yet.
Samsung could eventually switch to Micro LED after all, but external factors could force the company to take a serious look at OLED in the meantime.
MTN says Samsung is making the move because the dominance of several Chinese companies like BOE in producing LCD panels needed for Samsung’s current TVs has pushed up costs for South Korean companies, leading to the conclusion that Samsung may need to diversify into OLED. The outlet cites market research firm Omdia’s finding that prices of 55-inch LCD screens are up 74% year over year.
The report also states that the meeting between Samsung and LG, both South Korean companies, was initially organized by the South Korean government, but talks have continued from there.
Samsung declined to confirm the development when MTN asked for comment. In an interview with Chosun Media, Samsung CEO Jong-Hee Han said these reports were “just rumours.”
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