Stereoscopic TV battle brewing
By Kim Yoo-chul
Amid sharpening technology, there is no doubt that 3D TV is here to stay with the whole industry currently at the same stage as when high-definition (HD) was introduced.
3D was a key issue at the recently finished IFA electronics fair in Berlin where most TV majors displayed their latest 3D solutions with hopes to take the lead in the booming market.
``3D will be everywhere next year,’’ said Jim Chabin, president of the International 3D Society.
Now, attention is being shifted as to whether latecomer LG will break down the current domestic lead of Samsung.
Price matters for 3D hopefuls because there is little 3D-only content on the market and consumers don’t have much knowledge, in general, of viewing differences offered by the different technologies used by Samsung and LG.
``That’s why we are confident to completely beat Samsung’s technology in China by the end of this year and our next targets are the United States, Europe and Japan,’’ said Kwon Young-soo, the chief executive of LG Display, in a meeting with reporters, Thursday.
LG Display, the display-making affiliate of Korea’s LG Group, uses ``film-patterned retarder’’ (FPR) technology and is looking to increase its customer base to top-tier manufacturers including Sony, though senior LG spokesman Gary Son declined to unveil the name of any new Japanese clients.
3D TVs, introduced by Panasonic, Toshiba, Samsung and LG among others currently use two different technologies. Samsung uses the “active shutter-glass” (ASG) format as opposed to the FPR system.
A Samsung, Sony and Panasonic alliance argue that there is a clear difference in picture quality between ASG and FPR.
FPR technology shows left and right images to each eye that are then combined by the brain.
LG Electronics, leading Chinese TV makers, Toshiba of Japan and Philips of the Netherlands utilize this power free technology.
For LG, doing business with Sony and Panasonic is crucial to take the lead in the global 3D market as the two Japanese companies are strong brands.
``I’ve learned that LG has struck a significant deal with an Asia-based TV major for its FPR 3D technology,’’ said one high-ranking industry executive, adding an official announcement will be possibly made at next year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
GfK, the world’s fourth-biggest market research firm, says the proliferation of FPR 3D is inevitable as it is much cheaper than battery-powered ASG devices.
``We expect that in the future passive 3D technology will have a much stronger share than the active version,’’ said Juergen Boyny, the global director of consumer electronics at GfK.
``Because the glasses are cheaper, there is a much lower investment by the consumer. What we are seeing is that 3D at home is a communal thing with people tending to watch the film or the show in a family group or inviting friends round and that’s why polarized 3D becomes a very attractive proposition.’’
Samsung has acknowledged the challenge from FPR, however, the world’s biggest TV maker is still confident.
The company said it dominates the 3D market in the United States with a market share of 47 percent, followed by 10.8 percent by LG as of the end of the second quarter of this year, according to the data from DisplaySearch, a market research firm.
Samsung also said it controls 50 percent in Europe, while LG had a 13.3 percent during the same period, DisplaySearch said.
Yoon Boo-keun, who handles Samsung’s television business, claimed 3D is only one function and stressed Samsung is migrating into Internet-based advanced TVs to offer what it claims is a ``seamless experience.’’
``Samsung is the market creator for `Smart TV applications.’ We are the world’s fastest in adding customized applications,’’ said Yoon.
``The market is telling (which technology is better). We are in the phase of moving into the new and next sector,’’ the executive added.