By Kim Yoo-chul
Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics’ highly-advanced organic light-emitting diode (OLED) televisions will not be available in stores this year, according to industry sources.
“Samsung and LG recently scrapped their plans to mass-produce 55-inch OLED televisions this year as the companies are having serious difficulties in improving manufacturing yield,’’ said an official from leading market research firm DisplaySearch, Thursday.
The world’s top two television makers exhibited their first 55-inch OLED sets at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in the U.S. desert city of Las Vegas. OLED TV is considered the industry’s next big thing.
“Samsung and LG planned to start selling OLED TVs at major outlets worldwide during the London Olympics. But mass-produced OLED TVs will be available from late next year, not this year,’’ said the official.
The Samsung and LG OLED TVs are just 4 millimeters thick and produce images 200 times sharper than the current mainstream LCD models. Apple’s iPad 2 is 8.8 millimeters.
“The total shipments for OLED TVs this year will be 500, down from the 50,000 we had earlier expected,’’ said the DisplaySearch official, citing the very low production yield as the main reason.
Higher prices are another key factor. Samsung’s 55-inch OLED TV costs over $9,000 or some 10 million won, while the price of the same size set by LG is expected to be around $8,000.
“We are making progress under our business roadmap. But high prices and lower manufacturing yield are problems,’’ said Samsung Electronics CEO Kwon Oh-hyun,.
“While demand will increase to as many as 2.1 million sets by 2017, this will still represent less than 1 percent of the total LCD market share,’’ said iSuppli TV systems and technology research director Tom Morrod.
Samsung spokesman Song Cheol-gyu and LG Electronics spokesman Yoon Won-il reiterated a ``soon-to-be-released’’ stance without giving any updates.
During a recent brief meeting with The Korea Times, LG Display CEO Han Sang-beom declined to comment on whether the firm has plans to mass-produce OLED screens for televisions this year. LG Display is LG Group’s display-making unit. LG Display is also owned by LG Electronics, which is the main shareholder with 38 percent stakes.
LG Electronics TV chief Kwon Hee-won said, ``We will introduce our OLED TVs ahead of our rivals’’ in a separate meeting.
Samsung Electronics TV head Yoon Boo-keun refused to comment on the issue. However, Samsung Display CEO Cho Soo-in admitted more studies are needed before large-scale production of OLED TVs. Samsung Display is the world’s biggest display-making company and Samsung Group affiliate.