No more than a month ago a huge scandal blew in the backyard of some of the biggest TV manufacturers in the world. The European Community issued a record fine in total of $1.96 billion (€1.47 Billion) for the big players in the displays production business. Many major companies like LG Electronics, Phillips, Samsung, Panasonic and Toshiba were mentioned in the process as an involved part in the building of one of the biggest cartels in corporative history. LG seems to be the most affected as more than half of the fine is applied to them solely.
The idea itself is pretty simple: when a group of manufacturers control a majority of a goods market, they can easily dictate various strategies of prices and development of new products that they secretly agree upon instead of fair old-fashioned competition. In this case in particular they secretly agreed on practices regarding the production of CRTs (cathode ray tubes) in the period 1996 – 2006 and we can go further and suspect same practices from 2006 and to the present. Of course this kind of agreements are considered illegal and this is where the tricky part comes in, but entities of their size manage to find a way to stay under the radar. As a lie doesn’t lasts forever neither did their secret fellowship as EU caught on and acted accordingly. All that they have to do now is acknowledge the damage and decide if it was worth it (or still is), while, of course, they will appeal the EU decision, although neither of them have strictly negated the accusations.
Now that we have an overview on the background games we can only assume that innovations on this matter will have a uniform development regardless the manufacturer and at a slower rate. I don’t expect a tech war from now on between the big players but in order for sales to be generated they still have to come with something new every year.
As the evolution of displays (TVs, Monitors etc.) have reached a new peak in 2012 with the Smart TVs we are looking forward to see what’s going to be next in line. First of all the Smart TV generation is still young, therefor can be improved. For instance a friend was complaining that even though his STV is awesome he has trouble navigating and inputting characters due the lack of a multifunctional remote. As I’m sure he’s not the only one with the problem, some manufacturers have already announced the launching of devices that fill the gap and even more. For instance the “Archos TV Connect” which is a strange-looking remote-joystick-keyboard merger, which turns your TV into a tablet, being able to install on your STV Android Apps and TV streaming services. It runs the recent Android 4.1 with full access to the Google Play store while having all of your remote devices built in one weird gizmo. The Archos TV Connect goes on sale next month and we’re eager to see how it works.
TV producers will, of course, try to make the consumer’s experience as relaxing and facile as possible. When I had my first remote-controlled TV I used to say amazed that this is the climax of display innovations. I’ve been proved wrong and I think we are still looking forward to some incredible features. Until we reach the TV experience equal to virtual reality where we get transposed in the TV it’s still a long journey but a nice one nevertheless. While constantly improving on contrast, colors, resolution etc., manufacturers explore the very possible improvement of voice controlled TVs. Since Siri came to town hopes have been constantly growing in this direction. One example is the new remote from LG: the “LG Magic Remote” that has a voice controller built-in. It still acts like a remote but you can now have a small chat with your remote and ask it about shows and kindly ask it to record different broadcasts.
Concentrated more on satisfying the esthetic needs of buyers, Samsung has announced the launching of a wall-portrait TV that they claim to be “a true innovation of TV design with an unprecedented new TV shape”. I’m looking forward to having official technical information about this.
I’m expecting the displays market to bloom once more this year and mesmerize us with some awesome features. Where do you think the TV is heading? Keep it core, geeks and freaks!