LG Display has announced it will increase production capacity of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels for TVs.
LG Display and its sister company, LG Electronics, claim OLED TV will give them a competitive edge over rivals once the technology matures.
LG Display said it would more than quadruple the monthly production capacity of OLED TV panels to 36,000 units by the year-end from 8,000 currently.
The companies say OLED is far superior to the mainstay liquid crystal display (LCD) technology, offering better picture quality as well as lower power consumption.
However it admits that costs, however, are much higher, making OLED TVs several times more expensive than LCD sets. LG Electronics’ 65-inch ultra-high-definition OLED TV launched in South Korea last year was priced at $10,874, more than three times the price of a comparable LCD TV by the same company.
Samsung has given up on OLED, saying the technology is not ready yet for mass consumption. It has focused on quantum dot technology instead.
LG Display finished building a $640.58 million factory to increase production of OLED TV panels. The panel maker did not comment on its investment plans for 2015.
It is not as if LG is betting the farm on OLED, it is also launching its own quantum dot TVs alongside OLED products this year in what it says is a two-track strategy.
Tizen will give smart tellies additional software and connectivity functions, such as video streaming and web browsing capabilities.
Kim Hyun-suk, Samsung’s president of visual display business said that while Samsung is focusing on Tizen, the hope was that other TV makers will follow suit and help build an ecosystem that will help the platform grow.
Televisions are only part of Samsung’s Tizen plans. The idea is that a few smartwatches and cameras will also use it.
Samsung has been keen to move to Tizen to break it free from Google’s iron grip with its Android platform. Some pundits think that it will not take off until Samsung builds a successful smartphone with it.
This will encourage developers to write software for Tizen. Certainly TVs will increase the platform’s user base, even if it is not the normal sort of market developers write for.
The National Communications Commission said all the 12 brands it had tested, which also included handsets sold by Apple, Samsung, LG and Sony , did not violate the laws.
James Lou, an NCC official who was involved in the testing, said the commission, however, would request mobile phone makers make information transmission more secure.
The probe was started over concerns that the Chinese handset makers Huawei and ZTE were being used as snooping tools by the Chinese.
Taiwan is a bit sensitive to security matters involving China, which is its largest trading partner, but has never renounced the use of force to take back what it deems a renegade province.
Xiaomi, whose budget smartphones are popular throughout Asia, was previously accused of breaching data privacy. In August, the company said sorry and changed a default feature after a Finnish security company said Xiaomi collected address book data without users’ permission.
Taiwan’s government began performing independent tests on Xiaomi phones after media reports said that some models automatically send user data back to the firm’s servers in mainland China.
The probe was then widened to include local and foreign handsets. The NCC report said handsets made by HTC Corp, Asustek, Far EasTone, Taiwan Mobile and InFocus Corp, whose handsets are made by Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry were also cleared of breaching the data protection laws.
The metrics company said that of all the devices activated in the week up to Christmas Day, Apple ruled the roost with 51 percent of device activations.
Samsung devices took second place with 17.7 percent of activations, Nokia took 5.8 percent, Sony took 1.6 percent and LG managed a measly 1.4 percent.
Microsoft owns Nokia now so it could be said to be third in the pecking order.
Flurry Analytics said the figures indicated that the introduction of Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus had a “blockbuster” holiday season, beating the somewhat dismal gizmo trend.
Flurry also said that the largest number of app installs on Christmas Day, with 2.5 times the installs compared to any day in the previous three weeks.
The company also managed to track the type of device, with full size tablets taking 16 percent, small tablets 17 percent, “phablets” three percent, medium phones 58 percent and smalll phones seven percent.
ABI Research said that although 2014 was “lacklustre”, it predicted that there will be solid growth during the next five years with shipments of tablets close to 290 million units in 2019.
But the growth is not for every vendor – Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Google will show year on year falls in shipments.
On the other hand, Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, LG, Microsoft and Samsung are predicted to show higher volumes in 2014.
Senior analyst Jeff Orr doesn’t have good news for Apple. He said: “Historically, Apple has counted approximately 35 percent of its iPad sales in the last calendar quarter of the year. Unless Apple can pull off a 32+ million unit quarter, sales for 2014 will be down for the first year since the iPad launched.”
He said that Apple probably shipped 68 million iPads in 2014, but managed to sell 74 million in 2013.
On the operating systems front, Android has 54 percent of branded tablets, Apple iOS has fallen to 41 percent, and Windows 8 has a meagre five percent of shipments.
Apparently there is an increasingly bitter rivalry between the two companies which compete in home appliances, TVs and smartphones.
Samsung had asked the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office to investigate LG employees who were seen deliberately destroying several of its premium washing machines on display at two stores in September ahead of the IFA electronics show in Berlin.
Investigators searched the Seoul offices of LG home appliance head, Jo Seong-jin, and others and secured documents and computer hard disks related to the IFA fair, Yonhap News Agency said. They also combed through LG Electronics’ home appliance factory in the southeastern city of Changwon and gave it a rigorous parting.
LG said that it regretted today’s raid.
“Our company – a global company – was raided as a result of a rival’s unilateral and excessive claims, and we are concerned that this would seriously undermine our corporate activities and external credibility,” it said.
It appears that Samsung is a little worried that someone might sabotague its stands at the forthcoming CES show.
Samsung sued LG Electronics employees after the incident in Germany, and LG said the company has counter-sued Samsung employees.
Prosecutors banned LG’s Seong-jin from leaving the country ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to be held January 6.
Word on the street is that other countries are going to have a look at the firm’s highly profitable patent licensing business, and may even call into question its worldwide contracts with smartphone makers such as Apple and Samsung.
China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is close to completing a 13-month investigation into the US chipmaker as soon as possible. It will almost certainly mean that Qualcomm will have to write a cheque for a record fine and change the way it licenses its technology to handset makers in China.
Qualcomm has tried to paint the situation as being part of the sort of problems western companies have working in China but it seems that the mess will not end behind the bamboo curtain. Anti-trust probes in Europe and by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) seem to be connected to China’s investigation, Qualcomm has admitted.
Qualcomm is the top patent holder for mobile phone technology, including many that form industry standards like CDMA and LTE. Charging royalties based on the mobile phone selling prices, even those made with competitors’ chips, provided more than half of its $8 billion net income in 2014.
The NDRC, one of China’s anti-trust regulators, has said it suspects Qualcomm of overcharging and abusing its market position in wireless communication standards.
Qualcomm is expected by industry sources to agree to changes in how it charges royalties on mobiles flogged in China, which will hurt its bottom line.
It could affect its contractual relationships not just with local manufacturers such as Huawei, Lenovo, ZTE and Xiaomi, but also with bigger global players that make and sell phones in China, such as Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics.
Moving to a new memory standard should significantly reduce the memory subsystem’s power consumption and will provide significant boosts to clock-speed.
Samsung claiming that its LPDDR4 can hit 3.2GHz, if the wind is behind it and it is going downhill. Meanwhile the mobile bus widths are significantly smaller than the 64-bit channels used by desktops and the higher clock speed per chip will help close the gap between the two.
Vendors are claiming that LPDDR4 clock speeds will outpace DDR4 thanks to its higher amount of total bandwidth potentially delivered to tablets and smartphones. Meanwhile, the power savings are expected to be substantial.
While there is no serious risk of a desktop or laptop DDR4 system being outperformed by a tablet or smartphone there is some indication that the gap might be closing a little.
So far no manufacturers have announced plans to adopt LPDDR4 in specific products, but once Samsung is shipping in volume it is going to happen quickly. Hot Hardware is predicting that the Galaxy S6 would be a good first candidate.
Figures released by IHS Technology show that global revenues will be worth $353.2 billion this year, a rise from $322.8 billion in 2013.
Dale Ford, chief analyst at IHS, said the growth is broad based – a nearly all semiconductor suppliers have benefited.
IHS segments the semiconductor market in 28 ways, and Ford said that 22 of those have grown this year, compared to 12 showing growth in 2013.
DRAM and flash memory were the movers and shakers in the market, and while revenues for those sectors have risen by around 20 percent, other segments are also showing healthy growth.
DRAM and light emitting diodes (LEDs) have shown growth, and microprocessor markets are also showing strong growth.
Mediatek and Avago are showing strong growth in the semi league table.
According to the Korean IT News Samsung Electronics has begun production of ‘A9,’ the application processor for Apple’s next-generation smartphone. It applies the 14nm FinFET microprocess for system semiconductors, for the first time.
Samsung began production of Apple’s A9 in the Austin plant in the US using the 14nm FinFET technology. Samsung has production lines capable of FinFET process production in Austin, US and Giheung, Korea, but began to produce A9 only in Austin as it is in the initial stage.
The outfit said that it would start production of the 14nm FinFET chip at the end of this year, but did not disclose whether the company received an order from Apple for the production of A9 chips or whether the production line is actually running.
Samsung is happy with the yield of the 14nm FinFET process, and supplied samples as good as finished products early enough.
The Austin plant began official production first at Apple’s request, and industry insiders said it is a move to produce the chip in the US, not Korea. They guessed that the Austin plant was chosen because of the next-generation chip’s problems with performance security and supply.
The initiation of the A9 chip production enabled Samsung to recover the foundry quantities from Apple, which have been discontinued for some time, and get the upper hand in the 14nm FinFET technology competition with TSMC, killing two birds with one stone.
However, this is clearly a burying of the hatchet between the two companies. Apple and Samsung stopped AP production as they were embroiled in patent litigation back in 2012. It appears that Apple has been lured back to Samsung with its winsome 14nm FinFET ways.
Relationship counsellors are quick to warn that it is early days yet. Apple has been seeing other people during the break. Taiwan’s TSMC began the risk production of the 16nm FinFET plus (16FF+) process, and began to produce chips in July earlier than originally anticipated Q3.
Apple is effectively two timing the rivals. Shuttling between Samsung and TSMC, if TSMC’s production line is stabilised in the future, there is no knowing how SEC will respond.
Samsung’s foundry business was hit hard when Apple orders stopped. Although the entire semiconductor business is booming, securities companies predict that the system LSI business, including the foundry business, will suffer a loss to the tune of KRW800 billion this year. SEC is expected to recover sales loss to a certain extent with the production of Apple A9.
Gartner said Samsung lost market share, but Chinese manufacturers are showing positive growth.
Altogether, sales of smartphones accounted for 301 million units shipping in the third quarter.
Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner, said in the third quarter smartphones represented 66 percent of the total mobile phone market. She thinks that by 2018 nine out of 10 phones will be smartphones.
Western Europe saw a decline in growth of 5.2 percent, but the USA saw high growth of 18.9 percent, fuelled by the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
In terms of market share, Samsung holds 24.4 percent of the market, Apple holds 12.7, Huawei holds 5.3 percent, Xiaomi has 5.2 percent of the market and Lenovo five percent.
As far as operating systems are concerned, Android ruled the roost in the third quarter (83.1%), Apple was next with 12.7 percent, Windows only held three percent and Blackberry 0.8 percent.
Cozza said: “The smartphone market is more than ever in flux as more players step up their game in this space. With the ability to undercut cost and offer top specs, Chinese brands are well positioned to expand in the premium phone market too.”
Major vendors are engaging with the formal standards process, according to ABI Research. Those include Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Qualcomm, Samsung, mobile operators and academic bodies.
Research director Philip Solis sad: “These companies are all waving their 5G flags, although 5G definitions and visions remain very vague. But this is not merely marketing. These companies are most certainly putting a stake in the ground that will leverage their, work, competitive strengths, and, most crucially, patents.”
He said that Qualcomm in particular is keeping its head low, but other vendors such as Apple and Google are getting actively involved.
Solis said that efforts by vendors to use their patents will be fiercer than for 4G.
But despite the competitive edge, Solis said that companies are working together “so the standardisation process can hit the ground running”.