LG Slashes Prices on 55″ Curved OLED TV

TV – The Korean Times reports that LG is slashing the price for their curved 55″ OLED TV from KRW15 million ($14,200) a year ago to KRW3.99 million this month. The lower prices will be in effect throughout major retail channels in South Korea.

It would appear that the curved OLED TV (model # 55EC9300) is coming down in price as LG is ramping up to take control of the OLED TV space. Of course, since Samsung is much more focused on small OLED display manufacturing at the moment, this honor goes to LG anyway as practically the only supplier of the OLED panels. It also shows that LG has some capacity left in its OLED factory to support large format displays.

The article quotes LG that it is “pushing to widen the availability of OLED TVs”. At this price point, it seems more like the company is willing to sell some units now.

For comparison, based on today’s exchange rate, the curved 55″ model would cost roughly $3,780. Best Buy currently offers this model for $3,500. The other OLED TV (model # 55EA8800) is available for $5,000, or roughly KRW5.28 million. Compare this to $500 to $1,500 for a 55″ LED LCD or even $1,600 to $2,200 for a 4K LED LCD TV and it does not seem likely that the company is ready to take over the TV market anytime soon.

The article continues to speculate over the business strategy causing this move. It suggests that LG is trying to secure market share in the coming OLED market and goes as far as to state that LG is opting to increase market share over profitability.

This is a very interesting statement. If LG is not making money on the OLED TV at this price, OLED has a long way to go before it can really address the TV market. The Korean Times also mentions that Samsung is the only display manufacturer that could compete with LG in this market. This is a market view that may change quickly as Chinese manufactures are entering the OLED market. Only after that event will we know how difficult it really is to manufacture OLED displays.

The article also mentions the $38 million investment of Samsung in Kateeva, a Californian based start-up using inkjet printing. Maybe current manufacturing processes are really not able to produce cost competitive OLED displays and we need new process technology to achieve  cost competitive OLED displays. If this is so, the fight between OLED and LCD has become much harder for OLED, as a different OLED manufacturing process would most likely require standalone fabs and all the investment that comes with that. This will cause at least a significant delay in the technology adoption, as investments into display manufacturing is not as readily available as it once was. From that perspective, the Samsung approach of focusing on the mobile OLED display market makes a lot of sense. – Norbert Hildebrand