TV makers have been trying for years to get OLED moving. The high-quality display technology is self-illuminating, fast, and bright, with superior contrasts and no motion issues — truly the best that LED and plasma displays have to offer, all wrapped up in one screen technology. Unfortunately, despite some promising new solutions, OLED TVs remain 5 to 6 times more expensive than their top end LCD or plasma counterparts, and apparently that is starting to prove too costly for Samsung and LG, the leading Korean TV manufacturers.
The world’s two biggest television makers have struggled to profitably manufacture sets with organic light-emitting diodes, which have a brighter and sharper picture than the LCDs used in most TVs. Though both companies said they would mass-market OLED TVs last year, LG’s first model, priced at 11 million won ($9,900), hit stores in South Korea in January and Samsung still isn’t selling one.
Samsung … and LG are now pivoting, with plans to boost output of LCD sets to maintain their dominance of the industry. Sony, meanwhile, is seeking to capture a greater share of the market for ultra-high definition TVs — forecast to rise sevenfold by 2015 — by expanding its range of LCD sets.
“Samsung and LG both misjudged the ultra-high definition market,” said Jeon Byung Ki, an analyst at E*Trade Korea Co. in Seoul. “Now they’re thinking they may have to stick with LCD technology for a while.”
While 4K and OLED aren’t mutually exclusive — several 4K OLED prototypes were shown at this year’s CES — today’s Ultra HD displays all rely on LED-lit LCD panels, and Sony’s 55-inch XBR-55X900A 4K display sells for about half the cose of LG’s identically sized 1080p OLED TV. Until yields improve, it seems like the OLED TVs are going to keep treading water awhile longer.