Korean giants clash over TVs in Berlin

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Korean giants clash over TVs in Berlin

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Left: Samsung Electronics’ and the world’s first curved 55-inch UHD TV displayed at the company’s booth during the preview day at the IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin. [REUTERS/NEWS1] Right: LG Electronics’ and the world’s first 77-inch UHD OLED TV displayed in its own booth at the same venue in Germany. The TV is the largest of its kind. Provided by the company

BERLIN - The competition between rivals Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics to develop the latest TV is heating up at the Berlin IFA consumer electronics fair.

The day after introducing its first smartwatch, Samsung Electronics unveiled another innovative product: The world’s first curved ultra-high definition (UHD) TV.

The curved TV comes in 55-inch and 65-inch models.

“We have been developing the technology of bending the LED panel with our research and development department since the beginning of the year,” said a high-ranking company official.

Bending LED panels is known to be much more difficult than OLED panels, which was one reason it took the company so much time to introduce a curved UHD TV.

Samsung unveiled the world’s first curved OLED TV during the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas in January this year. Samsung has not yet set a date for the general retail of the curved UHD TV or the prices.

The company hinted that the price of the curved UHD TV will be cheaper than that of the curved OLED TV, but a bit more expensive than flat UHD TVs or LED TVs.

A 65-inch Samsung’s UHD TV is currently sold at 8.9 million won ($ 8,141). Some in the industry are speculating the price of the curved model could easily pass 10 million won.

The Korean electronic company also introduced a UHD-OLED TV, saying that both the curved UHD TV and the UHD-OLED TV have maximized the strengthen of both technologies.

Rival LG Electronics didn’t just sit on the sidelines twiddling its remote control. A day earlier, LG introduced the world’s first curved 77-inch UHD-OLED TV. That is the largest OLED TV.

“We will focus on developing OLED TVs,” an LG Electronics official said. “We have no plans to introduce a curved LED TV.”

LG Electronics outran rival Samsung when it became the world’s first TV producer to mass produce and sell large-screen OLED TVs.

Meanwhile, Yoon Boo-keun, Samsung Electronics’ president for consumer electronics, held a press conference at the Westin Grand Hotel in Berlin where he unveiled an ambition to aggressively expand in Europe.

“It is our foremost priority to settle in the European market, which is the birthplace for home appliances,” Yoon said. “Europe is a market that is very fragmented and you could easily become No.1 with a market share of 15 percent. But because of strong local companies the entry barriers are exceptionally high.

“For Samsung to become a global No.1 company we have no other choice but to center our target on this market.”

Yoon said while global TV sales amount to roughly $100 billion a year, Germany’s home appliances market alone amounts to $10 billion.

He said Korean consumer electronics companies could have done better in the past but were complacent.

“Consumer electronics are products that consumers use the most [in their daily lives],” Yoon said. “But until now we have been inadequate in our design innovations and rising to consumers’ demands.

“It is my goal to achieve product innovation through continuous consumer research.”

Yoon complemented Chinese rivals on their rapid growth and said their products were getting better and better.

BY CHO HYE-KYUNG, LEE HO-JEONG [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]

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