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LG's 55-inches White OLEDA few days ago I received a personal comment from a high executive at LG that made me go back to my thinking cave to control a panic reaction and start wondering what the heck was going on between Samsung and LG’s competition. His comment was shocker, and I immediately put my contacts to work to verify the legitimacy of it.

This LG executive, that asked for anonymity, said to me that Samsung was giving up their RGB OLED TV design to rather implement LG’s While OLED design for reasons of manufacturing and scalability. My first reaction was “nice joke” but when I noticed that he was serious I told him “no way; this could not be possible”, but then I said to myself “in this industry anything is possible”.

As I discussed on previous articles my opinion is that LG’s White OLED concept is quite similar to a transmissive LCD design in that it has light coming from the back and color filters on the front to display colored pixels. According to LG, in the WOLED the light originates from organic white OLED material at the pixel level and one main benefit is to have better black control per pixel, compared to the limited light/black control of a bunch of edge/top/multi-zone LEDs in LCD panels.

Even with an WOLED design that appears to be transmissive LG certainly found a way to still claim that the TV is an OLED and that manufacturing and scalability to larger sizes and resolutions would be easier than Samsung’s traditional design of RGB OLED sub-pixels that emit their colored light without any filters, a true emissive technology (like the pixels of plasma but organic rather than with phosphors), although Samsung did not yet issue statements about those subjects.

I respect the decisions and the reasons each company chooses to introduce their designs, but I do not like companies bashing each other in public or stealing ideas, they should put their money where their mouth would like to be, deliver their products, and let the market and consumers decide with their own eyes and wallets.

I checked with Samsung about LG’s comment and the response was “That's news to me. It's possible, but I have no information”. So I requested Samsung to do a deeper research to confirm if LG’s comment was correct, and the second response was: "I'm only told that we can't comment on speculation by others. That said, and while we haven't announced much of our plans to begin with, we have not announced any changes in our plans."

Just because this stuff was not enough to think about, I just read this article from OLED-info.com newsletter indicating that 11 people are being investigated because they allegedly have stolen intellectual property from Samsung regarding AMOLED, and I quote from the article “Korean police announced today that they are investigating a case of key technology leaking from Samsung Mobile Display to a local rival firm”.

Those people were later confirmed to be LG Display employees according to this other article, and I quote from it “The Korean police announced that they are questioning 10 LG Display employees, all former SMD employees. LGD's stock fell around 5% on the news.”

Samsung 55-inches Super OLEDI mentioned on this article that LG’s WOLED technology is quite different than Samsung’s RGB OLED design, and we all know that there are always different versions on each story and that only after the investigation is complete the true may possibly come up, but if the above mess ends up as it appears to be, combined with the comment made by the LG’s executive above, I wonder who is copying whom regarding OLED and for what purpose, considering that they both just introduced their OLEDs as stunning products soon to be introduced this year.

USA Today June 30, 2011As you may recall, during the full year 2011 LG continued their (passive technology) 3DTV advertising attacks to active-shutter 3D technology and extended the attacks to the companies that implemented it, particularly Sony and Samsung, which by the way, they both, together with most of the other companies manufacturing 3DTVs, produce 90% of the 3DTV models in the market, according to 3D University research as of October 31st, 2011.

LG was reprimanded after a complaint but continued their negative advertising until year end; and just recently Samsung was also reprimanded similarly, but ironically for advertising 3DTV features and technical capabilities that were mostly correct and easily verifiable.

So what can be taken out if this? That in this market it may better to shoot first, fast and ugly to produce a timely edge and later deal with the consequences of possible collateral damage after the dance is over, without even apologizing.

I am beginning to wonder if LG is starting another ugly battle like they did with 3D, but now with OLED even before the products are offered to consumers. What one may expect next? That LG may claim that a majority of consumers have seen their OLED prototypes in their controlled demos at malls and parking lots and they liked their OLED better than Samsung’s?

Quite frankly, I would prefer for both companies to get to work for a quality OLED, implement their designs as planned, advertise professionally and with respect based on merits rather than negative attacks, provide training in advance to retail staff so they can educate and transmit the right information to customers for them to decide intelligently, and let consumer’s wallets speak. Finally, the TV market has been always shared by many manufacturers and technologies since day one, why change that approach with 3D and OLED?

Posted by Rodolfo La Maestra, May 23, 2012 8:13 AM

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About Rodolfo La Maestra

Rodolfo La Maestra is the Senior Technical Director of UHDTV Magazine and HDTV Magazine and participated in the HDTV vision since the late 1980's. In the late 1990's, he began tracking and reviewing HDTV consumer equipment, and authored the annual HDTV Technology Review report, tutorials, and educative articles for HDTV Magazine, DVDetc and HDTVetc  magazines, Veritas et Visus Newsletter, Display Search, and served as technical consultant/editor for the "Reference Guide" and the "HDTV Glossary of Terms" for HDTVetc and HDTV Magazines.  In 2004, he began recording a weekly HDTV technology program for MD Cable television, which by 2006 reached the rating of second most viewed.

Rodolfo's background encompasses Electronic Engineering, Computer Science, and Audio and Video Electronics, with over 4,700 hours of professional training, a BS in Computer and Information Systems, and thirty+ professional and post-graduate certifications, some from MIT, American, and George Washington Universities.  Rodolfo was also Computer Science professor in five institutions between 1966-1973 in Argentina, regarding IBM, Burroughs, and Honeywell mainframe computers.  After 38 years of computer systems career, Rodolfo retired in 2003 as Chief of Systems Development from the Inter-American Development Bank directing sixty+ software-development computer professionals, supporting member countries in north/central/south America.

In parallel, from 1998 he helped the public with his other career of audio/video electronics, which started with hi-end audio in the early 60’s and merged with Home Theater video, multichannel audio
, HD, 3D and UHDTV. When HDTV started airing in November 1998, and later followed by 3DTV and 4K UHDTV, he realized that the technology as implemented would overwhelm consumers due to its complexity, and it certainly does even today, and launched his mission of educating and helping consumers understand the complexity, the challenge, and the beauty of the technology pursuing better sound and image, so the public learn to appreciate it not just as another television.