Will Sony OLED put Samsung LED to bed? TV, tech and marketing battle begins

By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY: Sony and Samsung marked out a new frontier in their ongoing TV war with the two brands entertaining journalists on the same day to show off the latest in television technology.

The Japanese and Korean brands, whose rivalry transcends technological or geographical bragging rights, are both releasing new models incorporating LED technology, though these two models are far from similar.

In a private suite at the Sheraton on the Park yesterday morning, Samsung head of marketing, consumer electronics, Mark Leathan showed off the new LED 8 Series, which incorporates LED edge-lighting behind an LCD panel. The results are impressive, and Leathan is justified in saying that the three new models, which will be in retail stores this May, have the best pictures currently available.

Then, yesterday afternoon, Sony technology communications manager Paul Colley visited the Current.com.au offices to present the first marketable OLED TV on Australian shores. The XEL-1 is not a widescreen flat panel like its Samsung rival, but rather a boutique 11-inch panel built onto its own mount. The width is remarkable – only 3 millimetres – and the picture quality is at least the peer of Samsung.

The retail channel for these two releases is intriguing. Samsung will be selling its three new panels through its 300 or so key retail partners. Leathan said that when consumers see the difference between this model and any previous release, they will be prepared to pay a premium to get this benefit. Sony’s new model, however, will not be gracing the retail sales floor, at least for the time being.

Colley said that this is a premium product (and at RRP $6,999, he’s not wrong), and it requires a specialist sales environment in order to shift units. To that end, the XEL-1 will only be sold at Sony Centres and through Sony Style at this stage.

Marketing is another major point of difference. Samsung is preparing a major above the line promotion strategy, with advertisements in consumer and trade publications and on television, plus a dedicated microsite. Sony’s promotion will be centred more on public relations, viral campaigns and Japanese whispers (which is like Chinese whispers, but talking about Sony).

With the trenches dug, and the remotes loaded, Colley didn’t wait for his counterpart to start shooting. When asked why the XEL-1’s advertised contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1 was dwarfed by Samsung’s 3,000,000:1 specification, he abrogated this figure, saying that once you’ve reached 1,000,000:1, you cannot accurately determine contrast ratios, and any figure higher than that is just an approximation.

And so it begins…

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