LG Display Struggles for Footing After LCD Forecasting Error Leads to Crisis

LG Display Struggles for Footing After LCD Forecasting Error Leads to Crisis

The chief executive of South Korea’s LG Display, Han Sang-beom, was determined to deliver a strong message when he appeared before 1,000 employees at the firm’s main manufacturing plant last spring.

So he donned a pair of goggles, picked up a hammer, and smashed a liquid-crystal display screen to bits.

The symbolism was impossible to miss: LCD panels, the company’s mainstay for years, were being relegated to the industrial dustbin. The company’s future would depend on a newer technology, organic light-emitting diode, or OLED.

“I’ve never seen him do such a thing,” said one company official who was present. “His performance showed a grim determination to weather this crisis.”

Yet LG Display’s predicament was in many ways one of its own making. Less than a year earlier, the company had showered employees with perks and bonuses as profits rolled in, driven by the company’s leadership in LCD screens for TVs, computer monitors and smartphones.

But LG Display had misread the market: Chinese competitors were coming on strong, and by early this year prices for LCD screens were plummeting. The fat profits of 2017 turned into big losses in 2018 – and the company abruptly announced in July that it would slash $2.7 billion in capital spending it had planned through 2020.

It did not reveal its total or previous targets but made about $6 billion in capital expenditures in 2017, according to Eikon data.

The company’s troubles stand as a stark example of the risks inherent in hotly competitive technology businesses that require massive capital investment.

“It seems that LG Display made a major miscalculation on its LCD business, not accurately judging the timing to pull away when they could see China’s rapid catch-up,” said Lee Won-sik, an analyst at Shinyoung Securities.

“We knew from last year LCD prices would go down but we did not expect this big and fast fall,” acknowledged one LG Display official, who, like others in this article, declined to be identified because he was not authorised to speak to the media. “Customers had been asking for price cuts, but we didn’t act until it got too late.”

Prices in free fall

LG Display posted five straight years of strong profits after Han took the helm in 2012, riding a tide of LCD screen orders from Apple and strong demand for both phone and TV screens from LG Electronics, which owns more than a third of the display-maker.

LG Display also began to invest in OLED displays, which unlike LCD screens don’t require backlighting and can deliver more natural-looking colours. OLED screens also consume less energy and can be bent and folded.

But the technology is expensive, and LG Display was earning the vast majority of its revenue from LCDs. Until its recent cutbacks, it was running eight LCD production lines in South Korea and another in China.

While LG Display hummed along, Chinese companies, led by BOE Technology Group, were pouring huge sums into LCD production.

By January 2017, BOE had become the No. 1 supplier of LCDs larger than 9 inches, according to market tracker IHS Markit, taking 22.3 percent of unit shipments versus 21.6 percent for LG Display. It was the first time a Chinese display maker had taken the top spot.

By early 2018, prices for many types of LCDs were in free-fall. Prices for 50-inch LCD television panels, for example, slid 32 percent in August versus the same month last year, according to IHS Markit.

LG Display’s big South Korean rival, the display unit of Samsung Electronics, had begun pulling back from LCD years earlier, shutting down older LCD production lines in South Korea beginning in 2010, according to a Samsung Display official. The company now has just two LCD factories in South Korea and one in China.

But LG Display was caught flat-footed and is now furiously slashing LCD capacity. It has closed three LCD production lines since last year and abandoned plans for a new one.

The company in April also rolled out an “emergency management system,” with employees being told to use cheaper flights and cut back on group meals, company sources told Reuters. Cash flow has become a concern: it was negative 838.2 billion won ($743.93 million) in the second quarter, according to Eikon data, and has been negative for three straight quarters.

Three company sources say the company is not planning layoffs for fear of losing talent to China, but some employees are frustrated with cuts in benefits.

“Executives are trying to keep the morale up, telling us media reports about a voluntary redundancy program are false,” a company source with knowledge of the matter said.

OLED a game changer?

LG Display is now betting the house on OLED, and says it can fund $17.6 billion in OLED investments over the next three years. It expects the newer technology to account for 40 percent of revenue by 2020, up from just 10 percent today.

As OLED becomes more prevalent, LG Display’s fortunes could turn, analysts say.

LG Display’s OLED panels have helped its sibling, LG Electronics, take the lead in high-end televisions. Some analysts believe LG Display has been pressured to supply those panels cheaply, hurting its profitability, though the company denies that is the case.

But the OLED market promises to be tough. Samsung boasts that it has been investing in OLED since 2005. BOE is getting into OLED too. There are also still technical challenges in making large-panel OLED TV screens that don’t wear out too quickly, noted Ross Young, CEO of research provider Display Supply Chain Consultants.

Son Young-jun, LG Display’s vice president of public relations, said in a statement that the company is the only producer of large-size OLED displays and had “unmatched technological expertise” in OLED. “The potential and outlook ahead is promising,” he said.

LG Display says its OLED division will turn a profit in the third quarter. It also expects LCD prices to stabilise, enabling it to squeeze profits from the older technology until the newer one matures.

“Given OLED is our answer and solution to the crisis, there’s nothing else we can do other than tightening our belts and pushing for OLED,” a company official said.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Apple Watch Series 4 With Bigger Display, ECG Capability Launched

Apple Watch Series 4 With Bigger Display, ECG Capability Launched

Apple Watch Series 4 price starts at $399 in the US; price in India not revealed yet

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Apple Watch Series 4 comes with a 30 percent larger display
  • It has a casing made of black ceramic and sapphire crystal
  • Pricing in the US starts at $399 for the GPS-only model

Apple on Wednesday announced the launch of the fourth generation of its Apple Watch at an event in the company’s Steve Jobs Theater in Apple Park, Cupertino. The latest smartwatch from Apple comes with a new design and larger display – one with thinner bezels compared to last year’s model. It also features ECG functionality that has been given a ‘De Novo’ classification by the US FDA. Other highlights include a ceramic build, optical heart sensor, swimproof capabilities, and more.

At the launch event, CEO Tim Cook claimed that the Apple Watch is the highest selling watch in the world. The company is focusing on connectivity, fitness, and health as the three core elements of its smartwatch strategy. “Apple Watch has become an intelligent guardian for your health,” said Jeff Williams, COO, Apple. “Everything has been redesigned and reengineered.”

Apple Watch Series 4 price

The Apple Watch Series 4 has been priced at $399 (roughly Rs. 28,700) for the GPS-only, non-Cellular variant, and $499 (around Rs. 35,900) for the variant with both GPS and Cellular capabilities. This pricing is the same as that of last year’s Apple Watch Series 3. The latest Series 4 will be available for pre-orders starting September 14 and will go on sale starting September 21 in 26 markets at launch for the GPS-only variant, and 16 markets for the GPS+Cellular variant at launch. Apple’s new watchOS 5 will be available for other Apple Watch models starting September 17.

It will be available in three aluminium finishes, and there is a brand-new Gold stainless finish apart from Silver and Space Grey. Backward compatible is available on the part of wristbands.

Apple Watch Series 3 gets a price cut and is available starting at $279 (roughly Rs. 20,100).

As far as India is concerned, pricing and availability details haven’t been revealed yet.

 

Apple Watch Series 4 specifications, features

The display on the Series 4 is 30 percent larger than last year’s model and comes in new 40mm and 44mm casing options, that are claimed to fit in a smaller footprint than last year’s variants. In terms of design, the latest Apple Watch Series 4 resembles the Series 3 except the near-edge-to-edge design new placement of its microphone for echo reduction.

The smartwatch features the new Apple S4 SoC which contains a 64-bit dual-core processor and a new GPU, with up to two times faster performance when compared to the Series 3. The Series 4 also has a next-gen accelerometer and gyroscope with up to 2x dynamic range and up to 32 g-forces.

The Digital Crown now gets haptic feedback that helps navigate easily in apps like Calendar and Podcasts. The speaker on the Apple Watch Series 4 is 50 percent louder, and the microphone has been moved away from the speaker to reduce echo. Williams also said the back of the new Apple Watch is made entirely of black ceramic and sapphire crystal.

The Apple Watch Series 4 comes with built-in fall detection that can alert emergency services and SOS contacts immediately. Other additions include a ‘low heart rate’ notification, alerts for atrial fibrillation, and electrocardiogram (ECG). Williams stated this is the first ECG product available over the counter, directly to the customer. The results of the new ECG app will be stored in the Health app on your iPhone, and can be shared in the form of a PDF file. These new health features will be available for US customers later this year.

The new smartwatch is touted to be swimproof, has Bluetooth v5.0, and has an optical heart sensor. Apple Watch Series 4 is powered by the latest watchOS 5 – with the UI optimised for the larger display. Apple also showcased certain new watch faces including a new modular face, one with the ability to add several health and fitness statistics, and three new minimal faces to cut down on the amount of information for users who prefer it that way. New watch faces based on fire, water, and vapour effects were also introduced.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Honor Magic 2 With Sliding Camera, FullView Display, Kirin 980 SoC, 40W Magic Charge Support Teased at IFA 2018

Honor Magic 2 With Sliding Camera, FullView Display, Kirin 980 SoC, 40W Magic Charge Support Teased at IFA 2018

Honor showed up at IFA 2018with a surprise this year – Magic 2

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Honor Magic 2 to come with a ‘Magic Slide’ camera
  • The smartphone will be powered by a Kirin 980 SoC
  • Magic 2 also comes with the 40W Magic Charger

Honor is jumping on the sliding camera bandwagon with its Magic 2 smartphone. During its event at IFA 2018 in Berlin, the Huawei sub-brand teased a smartphone called Honor Magic 2 that is claimed to come with a bezel-free display by leveraging a sliding camera functionality. The handset is a successor to the Honor Magic that was launched back in 2016 with display curves and AI-based features. The Magic 2, meanwhile, comes with a ‘Magic Slide’ feature that enables the phone to have a nearly 100 percent screen-to-body ratio.

At the IFA trade show, Honor only showed the Magic 2 briefly onstage. The successor to Magic phone did not get a proper announcement, but Honor President George Zhao teased some of the key features. However, the company did not provide too much information regarding the price, specifications, and availability of the smartphone. A zoomed-in image from Honor’s event shared by GSMArena, showcases the interesting-looking device that lacks any bezels or notches.

The most interesting feature in the Honor Magic 2 is its FullView display. There are no display notches or any significant chin at the bottom. It resembles the Oppo Find X that was launched earlier this year. Xiaomi has also recently teased a Mi Mix 3 with an “all-screen” display that moves the frontal paraphernalia to the slider behind the screen. Interestingly, as per the images, unlike the Find X, the Honor Magic 2’s camera slider appears to open manually. However, it may also be due to it being just an engineering sample and not a final product.

Additionally, the Honor Magic 2 will be powered by a Kirin 980 processor. At the same event, Huawei had launched the HiSilicon Kirin 980 as the ‘world’s first commercial 7nm SoC’. Compared to the previous generation 10nm process, the 7nm process is said to deliver 20 percent improved SoC performance and 40 percent more efficiency. Also, the Honor Magic 2 will come with a 40W ‘Magic Charge’ fastcharging technology. It is claimed to be very fast and safe. Honor, in a press release, said, “to further ensure safety, 15 layers of protection are also embedded in the smartphone. The phone can automatically identify the battery, cable and charger and only when all of the three parts are identified as safe, the Super Charger will start.”

“The launch of Honor Magic two years ago introduced the concept of the AI smartphone to consumers”, noted Zhao. “The first-generation Honor Magic was an era-defining smartphone that transformed the industry. In addition to AI-features that make the phone truly smart, Honor Magic’s ground-breaking all-curved panel design and powerful 40W charging support have reshaped smartphone design and become a benchmark for all smartphones. The developments of these futuristic flagship devices are closely followed by the smartphone and AI industry, and now the Honor Magic 2 has arrived.”

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Oppo A5 With 19:9 FullView Display, 4320mAh Battery Launched: Price, Specifications

Oppo A5 With 19:9 FullView Display, 4320mAh Battery Launched: Price, Specifications

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Oppo A5 has been launched in China
  • The new Oppo smartphone features a dual rear camera setup
  • It comes with a price tag of CNY 1,500 (roughly Rs. 15,500)

Oppo A5 has been launched in China, after weeks of rumours and leaks. The latest model by Oppo features an illusion texture back panel that has been designed using a nano-scale microcrystalline technology. There is also dual rear camera setup, artificial intelligence (AI) powered selfie camera, and a display notch. The smartphone additionally comes in a variety of colour options and has a metal finish frame. A massive 4320mAh battery is available on board that is touted to deliver 14 hours of video playback or 11 hours of gaming on a single charge.

Oppo A5 price

The Oppo A5 price in China has been set at CNY 1,500 (approximately Rs. 15,500). The smartphone is currently available for pre-orders in China, while its sale will begin from July 13. Besides, it comes in Mirror Blue and Mirror Pink colour options.

Oppo A5 specifications

The dual-SIM (Nano) Oppo A5 runs ColorOS 5.1 based on Android 8.1 Oreo and features a 6.2-inch HD+ (720×1520 pixels) FullView display with an 19:9 aspect ratio and an 87.9 percent of screen-to-body ratio. The display panel is protected by a 2.5D curved glass panel. Under the hood, there is a 1.8GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 SoC, coupled with Adreno 506 GPU and 4GB of RAM. The handset has a dual rear camera setup that includes a 13-megapixel primary sensor along with an f/2.2 aperture and a 2-megapixel secondary sensor with an f/2.4 aperture, supported by an LED flash. On the front, an 8-megapixel sensor is available with an f/2.2 aperture. The front sensor is powered by a list of AI beautify features and capable of recognising up to 296 facial features.

Oppo has provided 64GB of onboard storage that is expandable via microSD card (up to 256GB). In terms of connectivity, the Oppo A5 has 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth v4.2, GPS/ A-GPS, Micro-USB, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The smartphone also packs a 4230mAh battery and measures 156.2×75.6×8.2mm.

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Oppo A5

Oppo A5

  • KEY SPECS
  • NEWS
Display6.20-inch
Processor1.8GHz octa-core
Front Camera8-megapixel
Resolution720x1520 pixels
RAM4GB
OSAndroid 8.1
Storage64GB
Rear Camera13-megapixel
Battery Capacity4230mAh
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[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]