Samsung Electronics, which competed fiercely with LG Electronics until recently in the large-sized OLED TV industry, has been finding itself lagging behind since LG’s release of the 55-inch OLED TV product incorporating its own advanced technologies.
Both of the two companies came up with their 55-inch OLED TV prototypes early last year. However, LG has succeeded in manufacturing its product on a large scale ahead of Samsung, which has yet to plan on mass production. Meanwhile, LG has already announced its additional production facility expansion plan to invest at least 700 billion won for higher large OLED panel capacity.
For Samsung, which has dominated the global TV market for seven consecutive years, the defeat in the OLED TV segment, if temporary, is more than painful in that the segment will decide on the fate of TV manufacturers down the road.
Unlike liquid crystals in LCD panels, each pixel that makes up an OLED panel emits light at a reaction rate at least 1,000 times faster for much better picture quality. In addition, OLED panels do not require any backlight, meaning their thickness can be reduced significantly without having to compromise power efficiency.
Samsung’s delay in mass production is due to technological difficulties related to the manufacturing processes. Roughly two types of techniques are required to produce OLED TV sets. One is the deposition technology for the organic light emitting material and glass substrate and the other is the technology for producing the TFT, which is a sort of driving circuit device. LG Electronics has successfully developed its own WRGB deposition and oxide TFT technologies to bring out the world’s first large-screen OLED TV set.
Under the circumstances, WRGB deposition combined with oxide TFT is gaining ground as the best way to manufacture large-sized OLED TVs. Sony and Panasonic used the same method as well before unveiling their 56-inch prototypes at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last year.
However, Samsung Electronics is still sticking to RGB and low-temperature polysilicon (LTPS) TFT, which are more suitable for small-sized panels. According to industry experts, the technique entails high production costs and its production yield and efficiency are considered to be lower than those of the other method, which is why many in the industry are forecasting that Samsung will change its method to WRGB and oxide TFT sooner or later.
In fact, Samsung itself is mulling over the switch, too. Then, it has to procure the technologies as soon as possible. Although Samsung has worked on the technologies on its own, the consensus is that technological perfection has yet to be achieved and thus there is some possibility that Samsung will purchase the techniques from outside.
This is why some people are mentioning oxide TFT technology as one of the reasons for Samsung’s investment in Sharp. It has not been found yet whether their tie-up includes a technology agreement or not. If Samsung decides to produce oxide TFT with the aid of Sharp, its OLED TV manufacturing can gain some speed.