Samsung backs appliances, LG touts 3D-everything
By Kim Yoo-chul
BERLIN ― Samsung and LG Electronics, Korea’s two leading consumer electronics firms, are seeking distinctive strategic approaches at the IFA, one of the world’s biggest technology exhibitions in Berlin, Germany.
Samsung hopes that its advanced PCs and home appliances will steal the limelight while its cross-city rival LG plans to stick to its “3D-centric” strategy by exhibiting various 3D-embedded digital devices.
Yet, the two giants share one thing in common ― they are desperate to stand out to raise their profile at a time when global financial unrest threatens to kill demand for electronic goods.
“Samsung plans to use this year’s IFA as a springboard to boost awareness on home appliances and PCs, which it regards as new growth engines. By contrast, LG has keen interests to expand its 3D-featured devices and I think LG is all-in for 3D,” said an official from the show’s organizer, Wednesday.
The IFA, which competes with the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show (CES) for the title of the world’s largest electronics trade show, kicks off this year’s event tomorrow.
The main themes will be 3D and smart as electronics makers look to integrate stereoscopic imaging and network technologies to a wider range of devices beyond just televisions and phones.
Samsung Electronics said that it plans to display its advanced Series Chrono 7 to further expand its laptop business.
The Chrono 7 is a variant of the Series 9, using Intel’s Core i7 and 750-gigabyte hard drives. It has increased brightness on a thinner display than current models.
The release comes after Samsung Electronics Chief Executive Choi Gee-sung made heavy investment. Choi is confident of drastic growth in notebook computer sales.
According to data from Samsung, it is expected to sell up to 18 million laptops this year to mark a substantial rise from 5.8 million in 2009.
Samsung, along with Lenovo and Asustek from Taiwan, is one of the few players to yield sizable profit in the thin-margin notebook business.
Meanwhile, Samsung is mulling over the possibility of acquiring the Hewlett-Packard-owned (HP) WebOS mobile operating system to try and eventually surpass Apple.
“That’s very reasonable because buying HP’s WebOS platform would allow Samsung to build a tight hardware-software ecosystem similar to Apple. Its notebook business will also see further growth if the deal is completed,” a Samsung official at the exhibition said.
Samsung has hired HP’s former vice president Raymond Wah to manage the sales of its PC division.
White goods are another segment for which Samsung is showing an appetite. With three concepts of “Space,” “Eco” and “Smart,” it will display 100 home appliance variants.
Internet-connected refrigerators and solar-powered freezers are to be displayed, said Samsung spokesman Ko Ho-jin.
Hong Chang-wan, who is handling Samsung’s home appliances division, will announce the company’s updated business strategy and discuss ways to expand its home appliances business.
Betting all on 3D
Not surprisingly, LG’s buzzword at this year’s fair is 3D.
LG believes its in-house film-type patterned retarder (FPR) 3D technology is good enough to break Samsung’s lead in the global market for 3D-featured digital devices, and it’s jockeying to expand its product lineup from televisions to home theaters.
“LG will display a cheaper home-theater system modeled as HX906TX, with the actual marketing timing set for September. We hope to raise awareness on 3D sound, as well as 3D TVs,” LG spokesman G.W. Kim said.
The system allows accessibility to various 3D content that LG offers, Kim added.
Since Koo Bon-joon, the younger brother of LG Chairman Koo Bon-moo, took the top job at LG Electronics, the group’s electronics affiliates have joined together to create the FPR technology.
LG Display makes displays, while LG Chem and LG Innotek provide films and other components to LG Electronics.
And Bon-joon’s right-hand man, Kwon Young-soo, who leads LG Display, recently told The Korea Times that they will soon sweep Europe’s 3D market because consumers are eager for LG’s cheaper, advanced 3D technologies.
Samsung’s battery-powered 3D technology is supported by Sony and Panasonic, while LG Electronics has partnered with leading Chinese TV makers along with Philips and Vizio, to back LG’s FPR system.
Alarmed by LG’s growth in 3D applications, Samsung has sealed a partnership with several TV makers such as Philips, Sharp, Toshiba as well as TCL from China, to collaborate on standardizing its battery-powered 3D technolgy.