China's leading TV maker TCL appears to be considering entering the Korean market.
TCL has filed an application with the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) to register a “TCL QLED” trademark. KIPO disclosed TCL’s application on June 26 so that people can file complaints against the trademark. Unless an appeal is made about the application, TCL will be able to sell its TVs under the TCL QLED trademark in Korea before long.
TCL is highly likely to enter the mid- to low-end segment of the Korean TV market with its QLED TVs. TCL is already rapidly penetrating the global TV market with its excellent price-performance ratio. TCL boosted its share of the global TV market to 10.8 percent in the first quarter of 2019, closely trailing Samsung Electronics with 18.8 percent and LG Electronics with 12.8 percent, market researcher IHS Markit said. In North America, which is considered a premium TV market, TCL recorded a market share of 26.2 percent, surpassing Samsung Electronics’ 21.8 percent.
In particular, TCL's entry into the Korean TV market will undermine Samsung Electronics’ monopoly of the domestic QLED TV market. Some TV industry watchers say that TCL may weaken the premium product image of QLED TVs created by Samsung Electronics. This is because both Samsung and TCL OLED TVs are based on QLED panels and TCL is recognized as a low-priced brand among consumers. Among Korean companies, Anam Electronics is selling QLED TVs at relatively low prices.
In fact, the QLED TV market is growing rapidly, particularly in the low-end segment. An IHS Markit survey showed that sales of under US$1,000 QLED TVs jumped nearly 17-fold from 7,000 units in the first quarter of last year to 117,400 in the first quarter of this year. The proportion of low-priced models in total QLED TV sales greatly increased from 1.9 percent to 12.9 percent. IHS Markit expects the proportion of products under US$1,000 to grow to 14.6 percent in the QLED TV market this year.
"Samsung Electronics does not plan to monopolize the name of QLED as it is a general term and we welcome if other TV companies release products based on the same technology," said Kim Hyun-seok, president of the CE Business Division at Samsung Electronics, earlier. “Many Chinese companies are researching and developing QLED TV technology, but we are confident that we are ahead of them and will compete with them through technology differentiation in the future."