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[IFA 2015] Directions for LG Electronics’ OLED TV?

During the media day event for IFA 2015 (September 4 – 9), LG Electronics introduced diverse products centering around OLED TV such as LCD TV, G4, and G Watch Urbane.

 

LG Electronics clearly confirmed that the ultimate TV for the company is OLED TV. At the company booth under the title of the Evolution of TV, LG Electronics revealed that the TV’s final destination is OLED TV.

 

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LG Electronics, IFA 2015

 

At this exhibition, the OLED TV presentation theme returned to the flat design from HDT’s emphasis on black and previous curved design. Until now, curved design focused OLED TV were exhibited, but with the spotlight on flat design in IFA 2015, LG Electronics strongly hinted that future LG OLED TV will switch to flat products.

 

Competitors greatly improved contrast ratio through application of LCD TV and HDR. LCD’s basic contrast ratio is approximately 1,000:1, and in premium products currently being mass produced it has improved to 3,000:1. However, as OLED TV does not use backlight, the minimum contrast ratio is 100,000:1 with maximum of infinite contrast ratio. Through IFA 2015 LG Electronics is planning to actively release HDR technology applied products. In order to achieve this, the company will demonstrate HDR transmission with broadcasting companies such as BBC and publicize OLED TV’s black and white’s superiority over LCD TV.

 

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LG Electronics, IFA 2015

 

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LG Electronics, IFA 2015

 

 

 

LG Electronics provided ‘perfect color’, ‘perfect black’, and ‘perfect angle’ as the superior characteristics of OLED TV. These advantages are inherent characteristics that LG’s WRGB OLED TV can provide that show excellence over LCD TV in any environment.

 

However, the OLED TV presented in this exhibition did not show much improvement from one in IFA 2014, leading to disappointment. It is a point of concern whether WRGB OLED TV has already reached its limitation.

LG Electronics’ OLED TV, Increasingly Competitive in Price

OLED TV price, which was considered the biggest issue compared to LCD TV, has fallen once again. LG Electronics’ 2015 new model 65inch 4K Ultra HD curved OLED TV (65EG9600) is now priced US$ 5,999 on Amazon (www.amazon.com). The price that used to be US$ 8,999 even in June fell to US$ 6,999 in July, and it is now down to US$ 5,999, showing rapid decrease. Furthermore, the price decrease is not limited to 65inch products as 55inch 4K Ultra HD curved OLED TV (55EG9600) also fell by US$ 1,000, from US$ 4,999 to US$ 3,999.

 

There is a difference of US$ 1,500 in price between LG Electronics’ 65inch 4K OLED TV and Samsung Electronics’ premium model 65inch 4K SUHD TV (US$ 4,499). Analysis shows that the monthly average price decrease for OLED TV between June and August is 18% while SUHD TV’s is 5%.

 

During the last earnings results announcement, LG Electronics reported that UHD OLED TV will achieve price competitiveness in 2016. If the price decrease continues at this rate, OLED TV will be able to aim for market expansion against LCD TV through price as well as its many advantages such as design freedom, thickness, and picture quality.

 

LG Electronics reduced the price of 55inch Full HD curved OLED TV (55EC9300), released last year, from US$ 2,499 to US$ 1,999.

150827_LG전자의 OLED TV, 가격 경쟁력 점점 모습을 드러내나

LGD Expands Market Through Active Support of OLED

150724_LGD, OLED 적극적인 지원으로 시장 확대2

 

On July 23, LG Display announced its earnings results at LG Twin Towers in Yeouido, South Korea. During this event, LG Display revealed its decision to invest approximately US$ 900 million in Gen6 flexible OLED line in order to lead the flexible OLED market.

 

LG Display’s CFO, Kim Sang-don, explained that flexible OLED Gen6 line investment was decided at the board of directors meeting on July 22, and was made official on the morning of July 23. Kim added that the decision was reached so that LG Display can lead the OLED business in terms of technology and to occupy initial market in foldable and rollable technologies. He also commented the monthly capa. of the flexible OLED line will be 7.5K.

 

Regarding large area OLED panel, it was emphasized that this year’s panel production target remains to be 600,000 units and 1,500,000 units next year, same as the ones announced during the Q1 earnings results presentation. It was also revealed that 34K, approximately 9K higher than current capa., will be in operation in 2016. Addressing the concern of oversupply of next year’s 1,500,000 units while the OLD TV market is still small, LG Display suggested the solution of increasing the demand by active promotion from the second half of this year.

 

Despite the fall of mid to large size panels’ sales price, from the enlargement of sets and AIT technology applied sales performance, the business profit of approximately US$ 4,000 million was recorded. This is a 34% decrease compared to the previous quarter but a 199% increase from the same period in 2014. LG Display estimates that the sales will increase in the third quarter due to seasonal factors and panel’s enlargement trend.

 

OLED 8K TV, When Would It Be Possible?

The current TV market trends are curved design, large area, and high resolution. LCD and OLED, competing to lead the next generation display market, have both released curved large size premium TV of 55 inch screen or larger. In terms of resolution, UHD grade products are being released following FHD, and displays with higher resolution are being required.

 

Looking at Korea and Japan’s contents roadmap, UHD resolution OLED TV development is essential as Japan is aiming to test 8K contents broadcasting in 2016, and Korea in 2018. Korea began test broadcasting UHD from 2013, and is aiming for regular application in 2016 for satellite/cable channels and 2018 for broadcast channels. Considering active release of UHD TV occurred in 2014, 8K TV’s market release is estimated to be in 2019-2020. It is analyzed that approximately 3 years are left to prepare for 8K TV mass production.

 

At present 8K LCD TV have been revealed by key panel companies through various exhibitions, and its mass production is set for 2016-2017. However, only up to 4K OLED TV have been unveiled, falling behind LCD in terms of resolution.

 

The keys to 8K OLED TV actualization are pixel size reduction and aperture ratio achievement. LCD uses 1 transistor and capacitor per pixel whereas OLED requires 2 or more transistors and 1 capacitor per pixel. This leads to OLED’s difficulty in acquiring adequate aperture ratio and reducing pixel size compared to LCD. The key solutions are developments of top emission structure of OLED panel for TV, instead of bottom emission that produces light through TFT, and emitting materials that can generate sufficient light efficacy from bottom emission produced aperture ratio.

 

OLED demonstrated its strength as display by achieving what LCD took more than 10 years in 2-3 years. Considering this, although approximately only 3 years are left to mass produce 8K display, it is anticipated that OLED is capable of catching up to LCD’s resolution.

 

4K OLED TV by LG Display and Samsung Display

4K OLED TV by LG Display and Samsung Display

UHD OLED TV, Rapidly Catching Up to SUHD TV Price

OLED TV price, once again, dropped down by a large margin. LG Electronics’ new 2015 model 65inch 4K Ultra HD curved OLED TV (65EG9600) on Amazon (www.amazon.com) fell to US$ 6,999 which is a drop of US$ 2,000 from previous US$ 8,999. The price for 55inch 4K Ultra HD curved OLED TV fell US$ 1,000 to US$ 4,499 from its release price of US$ 5,499. The 2015 new model EG9600 series has panel with improved brightness of 450nit from previous 400nit.

 

The price of Samsung Electronics’ SUHD TV, similar premium product to LG Electornics’, is US$ 4,997 for 65inch (UN65JS9500), and US$ 2,497.99 for 55inch; there is a difference of approximately US$ 2,000 between LG Electronics’’ UHD OLED TV of same size.

 

The comparison between 2015 65inch UHD OLED TV and SUHD TV shows that approx. 40% price difference was shown in April 2015. However in July 2015, the difference was approx. 30%, showing that UHD OLED TV price further fell by approx. 10%.

 

These show that the UHD OLED TV price reduction is occurring rapidly. It is analyzed that the biggest factor for LG Electronics’ UHD OLED TV price fall is production cost reduction due to UHD panel yield increase and competition with set companies that actively began OLED TV sales.

UHD TV Price Trend, Source : UBI Research

UHD TV Price Trend, Source : UBI Research

Korea, China, and Japan’s OLED TV Alliance to Boost the Market

Korean companies had been leading the OLED TV industry. Before SID 2015 (31 May – 5 June), LG Display and Samsung Display had been the only companies to reveal 4K OLED panels, and until now, LG Electronics has been the only company to sell 4K OLED TV in large quantity. In terms of OLED TV market, despite OLED’s superior characteristics compared to LCD regarding contrast ratio, high viewing angle, fast response time, and thinness, the market share has been limited mostly due to its relative high price. However, this is expected to change soon.

 

LG Electronics has been pushing for OLED TV alliance and corporation with Chinese and Japanese companies. As a result, Chinese and Japanese companies resolved to jump into OLED TV market from the second half of 2015. Japan’s Panasonic and Sony are expected to release OLED TV for the first time later this year. China’s Skyworth, Changhong, Konka, and Hisense are expected begin sales from this fall.

 

Consequently, the number of set companies producing 4K OLED TVs will increase to 7 by the end of 2015. LG Display, the only company that can mass produce OLED panel with 4K resolution, is planning to increase production by 4 times this summer to supply these new to OLED TV set companies.

 

As mentioned above, until SID 2015, LG Display and Samsung Display had been the only companies which showed 4K OLED panels, and with LG Display being the sole company able to mass produce 4K OLED panels. However, in SID 2015, AUO showed their own 4K OLED panel during an author interview session, and CSOT and BOE presented paper on 4K resolution OLED panel. This signifies they possess technology needed for OLED panel production, and with proper investment they can begin mass production.

 

Soon LG Display will no longer be the lone supplier of OLED panels contributing toward increase in shipment of OLED panels and OLED TVs. This will naturally lead to lower cost for consumers and energize OLED TV market.

 

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LG 77 Curved OLED TV

LG Display Changes Game Rules for Premium TV with OLED TV

To change the rules of the game of TV market, LG Display held a media event on 19 May, overseen by Yeo Sang-deog, the president of LG Display’s OLED division. This event was structured only with OLED and showed LG Display’s determination regarding future OLED panel business.

 

Yeo Sang-deog mentioned that OLED panel will become LG Display’s future cash cow and suggested that LG Display could be reorganized to focus on OLED business.

 

In order for LG Display to commercialize OLED, clients who can buy the panels are important as well as companies that develop materials that can actualize qualities needed and necessary equipment. Yeo expressed that LG Display will engage in formation of ecosystem related to OLED industry to grow OLED panel as an export business.

 

For this event, LG Display prepared separate exhibition area formed only with OLED. The exhibition space was largely separated into 3 sections. The first area exhibited OLED TV and QD-LCD TV, which is receiving much focus recently, in comparison and demonstrated how OLED TV is much superior in terms of viewing angle, contrast range, and color gamut. The second exhibition space showed large size OLED panel. OLED TV with HDR technology which was shown in CES 2015, and convex OLED were shown, as well as transparent OLED. World’s first 500R curved OLED TV, wallpaper OLED TV with the thickness of a coin, and edge slice OLED TV were revealed. The third space was an area for what is becoming an issue, plastic OLED. LG Display exhibited 1.3 inch round plastic OLED for smart watch, 5.5 inch FHD curved plastic OLED, 6 inch active bending (dual bending) plastic OLED, and 12.3 inch cluster plastic OLED for dashboard in vehicle.

 

LG Display revealed all OLED products to domestic and international press, and demonstrated their confidence in OLED panel industry leadership.

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LG Electronics, Not Selling OLED TV? Or Can’t Sell?

OLED TV business that LG Electronics ambitiously prepared for is remaining at a standstill for more than 2 years. Korean media is reporting that the OLED TV sales in Korea reached 3,000 units per month, but this figure is too weak.

 

The money that LG Display have invested in line establishment for OLED panel for TV is already exceeding approx. US$ 1,400,000,000. Annual depreciation cost for equipment investment alone, excluding cost of labor and material, is approx. US$ 280,000,000.

 

Considering the current cost for FHD OLED TV is approx. US$ 1,800 – 3,300, monthly sales of 3,000 units in Korea only result in approx. US$ 9,400,000. With approx. 10,000 units per month being sold in the world, monthly revenue is merely US$ 23,000,000.

 

Although LG Display is aiming for 600,000 units of OLED panel for TV shipment this year, with LG Electronics’ first quarter world OLED TV sales of approx. 30,000 units, there is concern that only 100,000 – 200,000 units will be sold in 2015.

 

It is difficult to understand whether this uncommonly low sales of LG Electronics’ OLED TV is because they are not selling them or unable to sell them.

 

It seems plain that the initial price of OLED TV in 2013, approx. US$ 14,000, was set in order to not sell. LED TV at the time was being sold at approx. US$ 2,800, and the 5 times more expensive price was too high to be considered a normal premium price. Consequently, the 2013 OLED TV market stopped at around 10,000 units, and in 2014 remained around 100,000 units.

 

At this point, feasible production rate for LG Display’s 55 inch FHD OLED panel needs to be compared. In 2013, LG Display’s M1 line yield rate was approx. 40% with annual possible production of 50,000 – 100,000 units. As the yield rate increased to 80% in 2014, it is estimated that 200,000 units or more would have been produced.

 

Compared to LG Display’s investment cost and production potential, the LG Electronics’ OLED TV sales results are too shabby.

 

Of course, as the current main product on the market is FHD, when the newly released UHD OLED TV market actively opens the figures could always change. However, with 55 inch UHD OLED TV having to compete with Samsung Electronics’ SUHD TV, the market is not so easy. SUHD TV costs approx. US$ 3,700, and UHD OLED TV costs about 25% more with US$ 5,100.

 

Compared to the initial price of FHD OLED TV, approx. US$ 14,000, 2 years ago the UHD OLED TV price is low enough to be quite reasonable. However, with the performance of past 2 years it appears that LG Display might be inadequate to widely open the OLED TV market.

 

It makes one wonder how Samsung Electronics became the world leading company with their OLED panel equipped Galaxy series achieving 20% mobile market share, a market that used to be dominated by LCD panel.