Samsung’s share of the premium TV segment is in free fall, having dropped to just 13.2% this year. The company is trying to accelerate development of micro-LED display technology after consumers have rejected its souped-up LCD TVs, according to Korean media.
Buyers reject souped-up LCDs
Two years ago, Samsung commanded a +55% share of the premium TV segment (over $1500). It had fallen to 20.3% by the end of 2016 and hit a low of 13.2% in the first quarter of 2017. That is according to market data from IHS Markit.
During this period, Samsung has been trying to position souped-up LCD TVs as a direct competitor to OLED TVs from competitors; first as “SUHD” and more recently as “QLED”. Consumers have seemingly rejected it. The rebranding exercise follows a string of other misfires by Samsung, including 3D TVs and curved TVs.
- "Samsung's dominance has been shaken by aggressive promotions of organic light-emitting diode TVs by LG and Sony," an industry insider told Yonhap News.
Sony and LG dominate the premium segment of the TV market and held a 39% and 35.8% share, respectively, in the first quarter of 2017, largely thanks to OLED technology. IHS predicts that OLED will continue to take share.
Samsung held on to the number one spot for the entire TV market.
Pivot to micro-LED
Samsung is reportedly trying to pivot to micro-LED display technology to regain relevance in the premium TV segment where the money for future development is made.
Micro-LED is a new type of self-illuminating display technology. Whereas OLED uses organic material, micro-LED uses inorganic material. Samsung is expected to first apply micro-LED technology in cinema screens and later in TVs.
- “Samsung has been trying to diversify its product portfolio to wean itself away from the so-called ‘all-in strategy for QLED’ and is currently executing some plans with partners,” an industry source told Korean daily JoongAng Ilbo.
Market data for the second quarter of 2017 in which Samsung launched its first “QLED” LCD TVs has yet to be released. However, there are no signs of recovery. The South Korean company has already cut TV production by 10-15% and further cuts could happen this year, warns industry insiders who spoke to Korean media.
Apple, LG, Sony and other companies are also researching micro-LED but the technology is not expected to reach TV market “for at least the next several years”. Samsung will unveil its plans for the coming year at CES 2018 in January.