LG Electronics today reaffirmed its commitment to OLED TV technology, maintaining that it is in this nascent category for the longterm at the launch in Sydney today of its 2014 home entertainment range.
Coming one week after Samsung’s launch, in which OLED technology was conspicuous by its absence, the rival Korean supplier maintained that price reductions on its 55-inch Curved OLED model were due to manufacturing yield efficiencies, rather than sluggish sales, and that more OLED models would be released in Australia by the end of 2014.
“We see OLED technology as the future of television and we believe consumers with plasma and LED LCD TVs will look at superior OLED technology as a real option for their next purchase,” said LG marketing manager Lambro Skropidis, who showed sales data revealing that sales in plasma TV, a technology being abandoned by leading manufacturers, has collapsed by 45 per cent year-on-year.
Taking plasma place in the market has not been OLED, which is still only selling in very small numbers, but Ultra HD. By dollars spent, Ultra HD is now a bigger market that plasma, according to GfK figures shared by LG. The other growth area is in large screen sizes, defined as 46 inches and above, which has jumped from 51.7 per cent of the market in 2012 to 68.7 per cent in 2014. Growth has stagnated, however, in Smart TV penetration, which has sat at around 70 per cent for the past three years.
Indeed, according to LG’s own data, only 36 per cent of consumers cite Smart TV functionality as a main driver of purchase when buying a new TV. This figure is dwarfed by the other main drivers: Price (84 per cent), Picture Quality (82 per cent), Reliability (80 per cent) and Ease of Use (67 per cent).
This apparent lack of interest in Smart TV is not deterring LG, however, with its new WebOS interface receiving prominence at the media launch. A key tenet of LG’s TV philosophy in 2014 will be to promote WebOS as the most seamless, user-friendly Smart TV operating system. At the demonstration today, LG showed how the myriad ‘cards’ — icons that represent the different apps — can be layered across the bottom of the screen without interrupting the live TV action. With the LG Magic Remote, users can scroll through the cards to make a selection. LG has made it clear that catch-up TV and video streaming are what consumers want from Smart TVs, so the focus is on YouTube, ABC and SBS apps, while there is also Skype and Facebook.
WebOS-powered Smart TV is present on LG’s Ultra HD range and the higher-end models in its Full HD LED range. It is not, however, on its OLED TV, which was released in LG ante-WebOS history. Expect to see an update to this something in the uncertain future.
To simplify understanding of LG’s TV range for both consumers and the trade, there is a new naming protocol. The E Series will be LG’s OLED range, currently comprising only the EA9800 (RRP $5,999).
Next is the U Series, made up of LG’s Ultra HD TVs: the UB980T range of 65-, 79- and 84-inch units and the UB850T range of 49- and 55-inch models (see RRPs below).
Finally, there is LG’s L Series of Full HD LED TVs. This is a very deep range — we count 21 separate product codes — from a 32-inch model with no Smart TV access up to a 65-inch model with 200Hz processing, WebOS SmartTV and four pairs of 3D glasses.
For the future, LG revealed that more OLED TVs are coming in 2014 to fill out its E Series, while there will also be a gigantic 98-inch model — finer details still to be revealed — hitting retail before the year is out.
On the subject of retail, having launched its OLED and Ultra HD TVs (along with many other new products across divisions) exclusively with Harvey Norman, LG is now significantly broadening its retail coverage, with stock now being dispatched to JB Hi-Fi, Bing Lee and The Good Guys. In addition to sharing the love more widely, LG is running individual consumer promotions with its retail partners, such as offering a $200 petrol voucher with selected TV purchases from Bing Lee.
“We’ve got a lot happening right now; we’ve got product in the market ready to go,” said home entertainment marketing manager Grant Vandenberg. “We’ll be driving the WebOS message in stores with lots of point of sale material, helping consumers move through that path to purchase. We’ll see key displays for Ultra HD, and over the past 12 months we’ve built these premium zones to showcase our new range and to get consumers involved in the technology.
“We’ll be using brand ambassadors to help people understand and use our new features. With our marketing activity, we’re investing heavily to drive the market growth. We’re really excited by our range this year and we believe it’s the best we’ve had for a long time.”
Skropodis said LG’s plan for the market was to consolidate its #2 position (Samsung is #1), forecasting a 22 per cent value share for 2014. Contrary to Samsung’s claim last week that it was the only TV supplier to grow its value share in 2013, Skropodis said LG also improved by this metric.
LG L Series
LED LCD TV
(all now available; no Smart TV functionality)
32LB563B — RRP $499
32LB5610 — RRP $599
42LB5610 — RRP $899
50LB5610 — RRP $1,299
55LB5610 — RRP $1,699
60LB5610 — RRP $2,199
(now available except where noted; WebOS where noted)
32LB5820 — RRP $699
42LB5820 — RRP $999
50LB5820 — RRP $1,399
55LB5820 — RRP $1,899
60LB5820 — RRP $2,399
65LB5840 — RRP $3,299 (late May)
32LB6500 — RRP $899 (WebOS)
42LB6500 — RRP $1,249 (WebOS)
50LB6500 — RRP $1,749 (WebOS)
55LB6500 — RRP $2,199 (WebOS)
60LB6500 — RRP $2,599 (WebOS)
70LB6560 — RRP $4,199 (WebOS)
55LB7500 — RRP $2,799 (WebOS)
60LB7500 — RRP $3,199 (WebOS)
65LB6500 — RRP $4,599 (mid-June; WebOS)
LG U Series
Ultra HD TV
49UB850T — RRP $2,499 (late May)
55UB850T — RRP $3,199 (available)
65UB980T — RRP $5,999 (available)
79UB980T — RRP $9,999 (mid-June)
84UB980T — RRP TBA (late June)
LG E Series
(now available, Smart TV but not WebOS)
55EA9800 — RRP $5,999