The television market has gone from boom to bust, driven initially by Full HD and then 3D and last year Smart TV’s retailers are now struggling to sell new models while vendors are taking a TV bath due to a lack of profits.
But all that could change in 2012, by this time next week we will have seen the new line-up of TV at the CES show in Las Vegas and from early reveals we are in for an exciting year.
Even Apple is tipped to jump on the TV bandwagon as the big TV vendors, Samsung, LG, Sony and Panasonic roll out new models.
Stung by steep profit declines this year, the new models are thinner and lighter and in some cases packed with new technology such as fast processors and OLED technology.
LG Electronics, the world’s second-largest TV manufacturer, told SmartHouse last week that it will sell a 55-inch TV that is just centimetres thick and weighs only 7 kilo. Rival Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest maker of TVs so far failed to show what they will reveal but is tipped that they will have an OLED model along with a brand new Smart TV that has new processors that allow consumers to access online quickly while speeding up the delivery of application content to a TV screen.
The companies aren’t yet talking about pricing, but are expected to charge a hefty premium for the products. NPD DisplaySearch told the Wall Street Journal that the new LG 55-inch OLED TV models will start selling for about $8,000 in the third quarter of 2012, falling below $4,000 by the end of 2013 as sales volumes increase and companies find ways to manufacture the sets less expensively.
NPD DisplaySearch said the average price for a 47-inch flat-panel TV has fallen below $1,000 for the first time. Meanwhile, consumers don’t appear to be flocking in great numbers to adopt 3-D televisions, as some companies hoped; the research firm says 3-D TVs represent only 8% of unit sales.
OLED stands for organic light emitting diode which up until now the technology has only been available in small sized screens such as mobile phones and a 7.7″ Samsung tablet.
The key advantage for OLED is that the panel itself emits light, eliminating the need for a light source behind it and keeping the overall structure very thin and light. In some cases, OLED creates better colour contrast and uses less power.
In 2008 Sony began selling an 11-inch OLED-based TV in Japan. Priced at $2,200, it sold poorly and the company ended the product in 2010. Other companies, including Samsung and LG, have demonstrated larger-sized OLED-TVs in labs and technical conferences. But until now, no company could cost-effectively produce large OLED screens because of constraints in factory processes.
The idea of OLED was developed at Eastman Kodak but LG bought that firm’s OLED-related patents in 2009.
Even with the OLED technical leap, TV makers face another challenge: getting OLED-TVs to a price level that will be competitive with LCD and plasma TVs that are now priced like commodities.
“It’s hard to imagine OLED will command too much of a premium in the long run,” said Paul Semenza, senior vice president at NPD DisplaySearch “They can argue OLED looks so much better, but it’s a risky thing to do because LCD keeps improving thanks to those same companies.”
In addition to the OLED TV, LG at the CES trade show is planning to discuss an 84-inch LCD TV based on what it calls Ultra Definition TV, which it has four times the resolution of existing high-definition displays.