There's a new in-depth article about LG and Samsung TV strategies. Due to my low post count I can't post links yet... To find the original article, simple search for "Fear and Trembling: LG Display faces the axe for OLED burn-in and market squeeze".
Interesting things from this article:
In 2018, LG Display (the company that makes the television panels; they don't make the TV's themselves) first started to make a profit from their OLED panels. This was a result of increasing the square footage of panels that they sold by 65% compared to 2017. However, the company as a whole saw its profits drop by 96% (!) because of plummeting LCD prices.
LG have put all of their eggs in one basket for premium TV's: all OLED, all the time. They don't have a Plan B. Samsung of course have decided not to make OLED TV's, and instead they use OLED only for small screens such as for phones. Instead, Samsung have 3 directions for premium TV's:
: their current premium TV's use QLED technology. They sell well and are doing even better than Samsung had expected.
: they're developing QD-OLED technology, which marries OLED and Quantum Dots. QD-OLED uses a different technology for the subpixels than LG uses, which will hopefully reduce the chance of burn-in. This technology isn't perfected yet, and Samsung haven't committed to a release date (or even if it will be released at all). Nevertheless, the market expects QD-OLED TV's to become commercial in 2021.
: they're working on MicroLED technology, in which each pixel is a tiny LED. This makes it possible to turn off individual pixels, which provides perfect blacks just like OLED. The challenge is to miniaturize LED's enough so that the TV's are small enough for the mass market. Samsung aren't the only ones working on MicroLED technology, but so far no one has perfected the technology. It's unknown when it will become commercial.
The author of the article, who is critical of LG, stresses that Samsung are trying several directions while LG only has OLED. But he forgot to mention that LG have recently bought a technology that could allow for a new manufacturing process for OLED panels, which looks similar to how inkjet printers work (search for "Major LG Purchase Points To Cheaper, Better OLED TVs"). That would allow creating OLED panels more cheaply and with higher quality than the current process. To be fair, this is currently only basic technology, and it's unknown when (if ever) it will be usable for commercial purposes.
The author says that burn-in is a big problem for LG, but doesn't back this up with facts. Despite the risk of burn-in, LG Display have sold their entire OLED panel inventory (they're limited in their manufacturing capacity). Perhaps the burn-in risk depresses their prices, but given the premium price of OLED's (and the existence of the competing QLED technology) it's unlikely that LG could raise their prices even if burn-in didn't exist.
LG are currently building a second OLED factory in China, which should start working this year. This factory will allow them to make more OLED panels, and at a lower cost because the new factory creates larger surfaces than the current factory. Interestingly, the main reason to build this factory in China may not be cost: it's because LG Display are interested in selling OLED panels to Chinese TV manufacturers, and the Chinese want all of their components to be supplied from within China, where they have a great supply chain. Will we see cheap OLED's from Chinese companies in the near future?
The author, Cho Mu-Hyun, is very interested in some things that are of little interest to anyone who doesn't work in this field, such as exactly who took over the top LG job. He's also obsessed with honor, and mentioned that LG was "humiliated" because they're #2
in some market instead of #1
. Hey, are you a writer or a psychologist? Despite this, the article is interesting and illuminating even to those of us who are only interested in premium TV's as consumers and not as analysts.