In recent years, TV has shifted from LED to OLED technology, while High Definition (HD) is moving towards Ultra High Definition (UHD), indicating restructure of the global TV industry. Korean manufacturers that are currently the "leading ram" of the industry are using technology advantages to grab more market share. While Chinese and Japanese manufacturers might sink into a technology competition similar to the race between Soviet Union and U.S. during the Cold War.
Emerging Trend: "Three Kingdom LED Era" Formed by Competing Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Manufacturers
The age of Japanese manufacturers dominating the LED market is long gone, in its place is the "Three Kingdom LED Era" formed by Chinese, Japanese and Korean manufacturers. Manufacturers from these three countries are employing very different LED TV strategies. Leading Chinese LED TV manufacturers, such as TCL Corp. and Konka Group are placing their bets on internet TV. Their business strategy intends to add product value by cooperating with other companies to provide TV content and services. While Samsung, a representative for Korean manufacturers, is quickly spreading out its industry supply chain strategy in an attempt to achieve absolute advantage and dominance in technology and content. In response, Japanese manufacturers are following Korean competitors' strategies.
Business strategies usually determine the success or failure of product sales. In 2012, Korean TV manufacturers' shipment volume took a 40% share of the global market. Samsung alone shipped 51.30 million TV that year, and accounted for 63% of total Korean TV shipments. Chinese TV makers trailed just slightly behind in second, while Japanese manufacturers took third.
Current Trend: Korean Manufacturers Technological Breakthrough to Introduce New Changes
Entering 2013, UHD and OLED has become essential keywords in the TV industry. However, the UHD market which appears to be promising is facing increased skepticism. An industry source recently expressed concerns that the UHD market is still in the introduction phase. While manufacturers are lowering prices to promote products, the lack of UHD standards for image compression technology, HDML transmission and sluggish pace of developing broadcasting standards has made UHD TV somewhat embarrassing.
The concerns are not entirely unreasonable. Although, different manufacturers are using their own technology and 4K panels to surpass HD, future UHD standards lack foresight. Most 4K TV will probably be unable to broadcast future UHD video sources.
Looking into the future, UHD standards is becoming a major industry issue. Korean manufacturers seem to have more foresight in this aspect. According to a Chinese reporter's understanding, only Samsung UHD TV has the capacity to be upgraded to support future UHD standards. Using High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) and UHD image processing engine, and smartcard upgrade, the TV can be updated to the next HDMI generation to decode and transfer information under future UHD standards. Samsung UHD TV will be able to easily synchronize to, which will no doubt impact consumers purchase decisions.
Samsung UHD TV is equipped with crystal-clear UHD tablet technology to improve color and transmittance to present ultra high brightness and contrast. At the same time, any image can be transformed and broadcasted in UHD, which also solves UHD video source issue. This will become a main reason as to why consumers will favor Samsung UHD TV.
If say Korean representative Samsung has already occupied the pinnacle for UHD technology applications, it has been even more aggressive in second generation OLED. Recently, Samsung and LG have both launched curved OLED TV. In comparison, Chinese and Japanese manufacturers' reaction has been rather muted. Panasonic and Sony have set up a new company through a joint venture to develop OLED technology. "OLED's will not be widely adopted in the short term, due to its high cost, high energy consumption, and short lifetime," said Hisense Chairman Zhou Houjian.
Future Trend: Chinese TV Manufacturers Need to Be Prepared
From chasing behind other competitors, becoming head-to-head, to finally taking the lead, Korean TV manufacturers have proven technology advancement can metamorphose into application leadership, which can be further transformed into expanded market shares. It is not difficult to identify, projecting consumer demands, and maintaining technology leadership are keys to success.
For Chinese TV manufacturers facing high level UHD technology competition from Korean manufacturers, pricing will only reap temporary victory. R&D of core technologies will remain essential, while differences at the starting line will become natural defects. To make breakthroughs, Chinese TV industry needs to get ready in advance.
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