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Is The Switch From Volume To Value Unanimous?

Samsung has a regular spot at the IFA Global Press Conference, an opportunity to tease the world’s CE press before the IFA Show in September. This year, the big question the audience wanted answered was what Samsung would do in 4K2K. While flagship products such as 85” had been shown, the real question was what Samsung’s response to 4K2K products in real-world sizes like 55” would be.

The answer was realistic. Michael Zoeller, European Sales & Marketing Director of TV at Samsung pointed out the hard facts behind the 4K hype:

  • There is no 4K broadcast standard
  • There is no 4K interconnect standard
  • 4K Blu-ray is still not agreed
  • No 4K TV released today is future-proofed for even the first 4K formats.

At this point he explained how Samsung’s expansion port and ‘evolution kit’ approach at least means that any of their 4K sets sold today have a fighting chance of being usable when 4K material does arrive.

Compare and contrast with Samsung’s approach when 3D first appeared: immediately Samsung went onto a war footing and out-developed its competition, producing the widest 3D product range within months. I don’t think that Samsung is being complacent today, but it does show how much the market has changed. Samsung’s strategy is now to protect (and recover) margins – a necessary step after the profitless prosperity which has broken retailers’ and TV set makers’ businesses. Samsung has gone from being the upstart to the boss; and we are of course promised more Samsung 4K TV product launches at IFA’13.

Of course, things do not stay still for long. Chinese set makers made their presence felt at the last two big events: IFA’12 and CES’13. They look to me to be poised to break out of their domestic market and are using 4K2K as a first attempt to reposition their brands, having mastered the technology. The new challenge for the Chinese brands is to master marketing in unfamiliar markets: product management of 4K TV will be the first test. If it turns into another price war, there will be no winners.