Perennial South Korean rivals Samsung and LG trade blows at CES over competing TV technology, and what will win over consumers in 2015.
LAS VEGAS - Intense competition in the tech industry tends to benefit consumers and bring awe-inspiring, beautiful products to market, but the competition itself is never pretty. The ongoing rivalry between South Korean tech giants Samsung and LG was in full swing during CES 2015, and the TV bosses of both companies had some choice words to share on each others' quantum dot and OLED TV efforts.
At a press conference at CES, Head of LG Electronics Kwon Bong-suk said the company's OLED TVs were "in a different dimension to LCD," highlighting the technology's superiority to quantum dot LCD TVs.
"CRT TVs were first generation. LCD TVs were second. OLED TVs are the third generation, and in a whole different dimension (with its predecessors)," said LG's TV boss. "LG Electronics has for two to three years stressed the superiority of OLED." He called out Samsung directly, asking "whether they aren't doing OLED or they can't do OLED."
Samsung had previously said it won't be releasing any OLED TVs in 2015 as it believes market demand for the technology is still too low.
Kwon said that LG will lead the market in OLED TVs this year with a three-track plan: launching a full lineup, securing price competitiveness and pursuing an aggressive market strategy. LG has set up OLED TV production line in Mexico, Brazil, Poland, China, India and Vietnam, and its display affiliate invested 700 billion won in 2014 in OLED production lines to increase price competitiveness through mass production.
LG is targeting "growth rate higher than the market average," said Kwon. The South Korean tech giant's TV market share has grown for the three straight years.
In QD LCD TVs, Kwon said there are exclusive deals in place to receive QD materials from Dow Chemicals, and LG is ready to launch the recently unveiled models around March. "No competitor has the exclusive supply line with Dow Chemicals that we have and we aren't worried about shortness in supply."
The mass uptake of QD LCD TVs "will happen not based on the production and sales capabilities of TV makers but the chemical firms providing the QD materials," said LG's TV boss, adding that companies attending CES that are showing QD TVs, such as Samsung and TCL, won't reach their sales targets due to shortage of materials.
Samsung is using its own QD materials for its SUHD TVs instead of outsourcing them, in contrast with LG's deal with Dow Chemical. Samsung's head of visual displays, Kim Hyun-suk, said "I know how our competitor made their sample of (QD LCD TVs) and I can say it seems they are not production ready. A March launch [for LG's QD LCD TVs] seems doubtful."
"We also got samples [of QD materials] from Dow Chemical," said the Samsung TV boss. "The nano-module is incredibly sensitive to the surrounding environment. So they need to guarantee a long life span. It also seems week against water and heat."
Kim said it took Samsung five years to prepare the QD materials for commercialization. "Samsung Electronics is the only company that can guarantee reliability when it comes to QD," said the president.
On rivals in general that showed off curved TVs during CES, he said that Samsung was the only company mass producing them, that anybody could make a sample for tradeshows.
LG's Kwon also directed barbs at Samsung's Tizen TVs, calling it "nothing new" and less intuitive compared to LG's recently launched webOS 2.0 TVs. "When I saw our competitor's OS, it occurred to me that we have already shown the answer sheet for Smart TVs last year. LG Electronics already launched last year our intuitive UI-based webOS TVs," said Kwon.
Sam Kim, VP of LG's TV product planning function division, called Samsung "essentially a good marketing company ... I think they have a lot of money to spend on marketing."