SEOUL - Chinese flat screen makers, once dismissed as second-class players in the global LCD market, are drawing envious looks from big names such as LG Display Co Ltd and Samsung.
While the Korean giants were busy developing next-generation organic light emitting diode (OLED) TVs, little-known Chinese companies have started selling a type of display that are sharper than the standard LCD and cheaper than OLED.
Say hello to ultra high-definition (UHD) displays.
Until last year, the UHD market had been almost non-existent, with just 33,000 sets sold in the 200 million-unit LCD TV market. Since then, shipments have soared around 20-fold, thanks to China, data from research firm IHS shows.
Chinese consumers who want brighter and sharper images but can't afford OLED screens made by LG and Samsung Display, a unit of Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, are turning to UHD.
The risk for OLED is that UHD may become mainstream and the long-awaited cheaper OLEDs arrive too late to displace it, analysts say.
OLED's long-term potential is huge: ultra-high resolution, screens thin enough that they could conceivably be curved or even rolled up, and so on.
But its slow introduction into the market and austere prices have thrown open a window of opportunity for UHD makers, in this case Chinese companies like BOE Technology Group Co Ltd and TCL Corp's LCD unit CSOT.
In China, 55-inch UHD models sell for around US$1,800 (S$2,275). By contrast, an OLED TV of similar dimensions sold by Samsung Electronics costs around US$10,000.
"(I) have to admit that we hadn't fully appreciated the potential of the UHD market," LG Display's Chief Executive Han Sang-beom said recently.