LG, No. 2 TV maker, vows to keep Sony at third
BERLIN ― LG Electronics trails domestic rival Samsung Electronics as the world’s second-biggest flat-screen television maker and vows to keep Sony at third by strengthening its efforts in premium products such as light-emitting diode (LED)-backlit liquid crystal display (LCD) televisions.
LG plans to sell 40 million televisions in 2011, enough for a global market share of 15 percent. About 35 million of them would be LCD models, about a 40 percent increase from this year’s projected sales of 25 million units, company officials said.
LG has been engaged in a cut-throat battle with Sony for the television market’s runner-up position, meanwhile worrying that Samsung is beginning to cement its status at the top. Sony recently set its television sales target at 25 million in the fiscal year ending March 31.
``We are seeking to achieve dual strength in both the premium product segment and low-end segment. In the premium segment, LED-backlit LCD televisions will be key, as they will account for 60 percent of our high-end product lineup,’’ Kang Shin-ik, the head of LG’s television division, told reporters at the IFA trade fair in Berlin.
``We will also spend to improve our supply chain management for low-end televisions. The concerns over the European currency have been easing as the Euro is beginning to show signs of stabilization. The Euro zone economy will improve visibly from the second-half of next year and this will be a crucial opportunity for us to expand market share.’’
Kang denied speculations that LG will increase the outsourcing of some of its television manufacturing, saying that company is more concerned about maintaining its brand reputation than cutting costs. In answering the question, Kang didn’t miss the opportunity to slip a verbal jab at LG’s Japanese rival.
``Sony is narrowing the market gap with us by being aggressive in outsourcing. However, it remains to be seen whether they can keep doing that for an extended period without sacrificing their brand image,’’ Kang said.
Battle commences on `smart’ TVs
Despite offering bold statements on other issues, Kang was coy about LG’s detailed plans for ``smart’’ televisions, the new generation of Web-connected, feature-rich televisions and the buzzword at this year’s IFA event.
Kang did mention that LG is planning to provide televisions powered by Google’s operating platform and is also focusing on delivering a wealth of customized software to users to achieve its vision for ``all-in-one’’ television products.
``It’s true that LG plans to have its own version of the Google TV. But our investment in `smart’ televisions remains rather cautionary _ it is of course a market with immense potential, but it would take a lot more than hardware competitiveness to succeed in it,’’ Kang said.
``We are focusing on developing applications tailored for televisions, and unlike the mobile arena, there wouldn’t be a need to provide millions of them, but just the right ones.’’
LG is also planning to spend more on marketing three-dimensional (3D)-enabled televisions, expecting an increased demand in coming months as prices begin to fall.
About 5 million of LG’s expected flat-screen television sales will come from plasma display products, and many of them will be 3D enabled. The company says it plans to double its production of 3D televisions, with models around the 50-inch range seen as the most popular.
``Plasma televisions are expected to turnaround from next year amid the growing popularity of 3D TVs,’’ Kang said. Plasma displays provides a cheaper way than LCDs for making large-screen televisions, which makes it easier for makers to control the prices of finished products after equipping them with 3D functions.
Additionally, LG will release 72-inch 3D LED-backlit LCD TV from next month in the United States and some European countries. Kang also commented it has completely shut down the bulky cathode tube-ray or CRT television lines as the old-fashioned sets are hurting its brand image.