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Samsung defies laws of TV tech with OLED


Published: 18 May, 2012


As bold as you like Samsung has defied the laws of product introductions and taken a massive gamble on bringing a 55 inch OLED TV to market during 2012.

OLED technology was very slowing progressing from 3 inch screens to 4 inch, and is now deemed ready for prime time on tablets - so how, and more importantly why, will Samsung miss out on all the intervening steps and rush these giant screens to market, with potentially disastrous consequences.

First it wants to put pressure on its rival TV makers - especially LG, Sony and Panasonic - to make them follow suit and move to OLED far earlier than they are equipped to, or risk being left out of the plum, top end of the TV market, where margins are largest. Secondly it is running scared of Apple.

To come to market with OLED technology a full two years before anyone thinks it is viable will serve as a reminder that the OLED technology really IS better than LCD, leading to thinner, lighter devices, which use less power and have greater screen resolution. On the one hand Apple needs this for its iPad range, on the other if TVs come out like that, it will make any Apple iTV introduction less appealing.

Samsung will introduce a 55 inch OLED TV later this year in Korea and some neighboring countries. It will soon get to the US and Europe as volumes ramp through 2013. In Active Matrix OLEDS think of each pixel as a Cathode Ray tube of its own, and think of those where the screen shows black, as simply being turned off, using no power, at all.

The sooner Samsung gets on this learning curve, the more rapidly the $10,000 top end TV sets, can become $2,000 mid-range TV sets using the same technology. If Samsung pulls this off then by late 2015 the majority of TV sets will become OLED based and its market leadership will have grown further. If it doesn't, it risks losing out to companies which stay with LCD for a while longer.

Like Apple Samsung is fond of taking risks, but at first every TV it makes like this will be a loss leader, and Sony tried to move to OLED in 2007 and gave up with its tail between its legs. In the Apple Samsung war, this could be the move that breaks the deadlock - one way or another.

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