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Will LG win 3D technology battle with Samsung?

2011-07-14 19:55

SEOUL - Tech archrivals Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics have been battling fiercely over technology standard for three-dimensional (3D) televisions.

Samsung, the world's largest flat-screen TV vendor, has been aggressively pushing for active shutter-glass (SG) technology that is the current industry standard adopted by Sony and Samsung.

LG Electronics and its panel supplier LG Display contended with its new film patterned retarder (FPR) technology in a bid to boost sales of their flat-screen TVs.

The FPR technology, which LG introduced in December last year, uses polarized method under which 3D images are created by sending visual data to both eyes simultaneously. The SG technology, which Samsung adopted, sends visual information to each eye sequentially.

The SG technology has been touted as better picture quality and deeper 3D images, but the eyewear is heavier because it requires batteries and chips to work. The FPR technology makes long-time TV viewers feel more comfortable as it addresses blurry and flickering images, and it offers lighter eyewear.

Samsung and LG has been waging a war of words via its separate advertising, but the battle seems to enter a new phase amid growing expectations that the SG-typed TVs will gradually give way to the FPR-typed sets.

"The FPR-typed 3D sets are projected to rapidly expand its market share in the global 3D TV market due to their cheaper prices, easier way of usage and lower costs for production," Kevin Lee, an analyst at Woori Investment & Securities in Seoul, said in a report released at July 5.

The local brokerage predicted the penetration rate, which gauges the ratio of 3D sets against the total flat-screen TVs, will rise to 9.9 percent by year-end from the mere 3 percent tallied at the end of last year. According to research firm iSuppi, 3D TV shipments are forecast to account for more than half of the global flat-panel shipments by 2014.

Some market watchers here said the outlook for the FPR-typed 3D TVs is bright as the technology has a competitive edge in terms of production costs.

"The merits of the FPR technology should be appreciated highly as it needs lower production costs. Consumers are projected to willingly pay 20 percent more premium for flat-screen sets, within which 3D function was embedded as an add-on feature," Lee Hak-moo, an analyst at Mirae Asset Securities in Seoul, said in a report.

Meanwhile, Daewoo Securities said in a report that LG Display is likely to generate momentum starting in the third quarter of this year due to growing 3D panel supplies from LG Chem's new FPR line. LG Chem is known to be the only chemical firm, which can produce films used for 3D FPR TVs.

"LG Chem boosted its 3D FPR TV film production capacity, which will enable more stable shipments to LG Display," Soh Hyun-chul, an analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp., said in a report.

Meanwhile, the FPR-typed 3D sets are well-received in the 3D TV market compared with the SG-typed 3D TVs, according to an analyst at local brokerage, who asked not to be identified. The FPR-typed TVs are taking the lead in China, which became the world's largest flat-screen TV market last year.

The analyst said that LG Electronics can produce consumer- friendly 3D TVs from low-end to premium by using the FPR technology, adding that Samsung is estimated to internally discuss turning to the FPR technology.

He forecast that it will take more than six months for Samsung to shift to the FPR technology from the current industry standard SG technology.

"LG Electronics will lead the 3D TV market with its higher price competitiveness," Noh Geun-chang, an analyst at HMC Investment & Securities in Seoul, said in a report.

According to the report, the FPR technology is better than the SG one in terms of lighter glasses, lesser flickering images as well as price competitiveness. The LG-led technology will boost the expansion of LG's market share in the global flat-screen market by creating synergy with LG Chem's film technology and LG Display's panel technology, the report said.

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