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”]

Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro Sale Today on Flipkart and Mi.com, Both Variants Up for Grabs

Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro Sale Today on Flipkart and Mi.com, Both Variants Up for Grabs

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Redmi Note 5 Pro price in India starts at Rs. 14,999
  • It comes in 4GB RAM and 6GB RAM variants
  • The smartphone will be available via Flipkart and Mi.com

Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro will go on sale in India today at flash sales scheduled for 12pm IST. The popular Redmi Note 5 Pro smartphone comes in two variants, 4GB RAM AND 6GB RAM, and both will be available for purchase in the flash sale today. As before, fans can head to Flipkart and Mi.com to get a chance to buy the Redmi Note 5 Pro. The Xiaomi smartphone competes with the likes of Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 and Realme 1 in the Indian market.

ALSO SEEXiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro Review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro price in India, specifications

The Redmi Note 5 Pro price in India is Rs. 16,999 for the 6GB RAM variant, and Rs. 14,999 for the 4GB RAM option.

 

As for the specifications, the dual-SIM Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro runs MIUI 9-based on Android Nougat. The handset also has the identical 5.99-inch full-HD (1080×2160 pixels) display with an 18:9 aspect ratio, 450-nit brightness, 83 percent NTSC colour gamut, and 2.5D curved glass. It is powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 636 SoC, coupled with Adreno 509 GPU and has a rear-facing fingerprint sensor.

In terms of optics, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro has a dual rear camera setup, with a 12-megapixel primary sensor sporting an aperture of f/2.2 and a 1.25-micron pixel size, while the 5-megapixel secondary sensor has a f/2.0 aperture and 1.12-micron pixel size. There is also an LED flash on the back. On the front, the smartphone has a 20-megapixel Sony IMX376 sensor that is accompanied by an LED selfie-light module.

There is 64GB of onboard storage that is expandable via microSD card in a hybrid dual-SIM configuration. Further, the handset has 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, GPS/ A-GPS, 3.5mm headphone jack, and Micro-USB. It packs a 4000mAh battery and weighs 181 grams.

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Redmi Note 5 Pro

Redmi Note 5 Pro

Rs.15,910
Buy
  • REVIEW
  • KEY SPECS
  • NEWS
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
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  • Battery Life
  • Camera
  • Value for Money
  • Good
  • Bright and vivid display
  • Good build quality
  • Competent cameras
  • Great value
  • Bad
  • Fast charger not bundled
  • Lacks USB Type-C
  • Preinstalled bloatware
BUY AT
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro (Blue, 64GB, 4GB RAM)
    Rs.15,910
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro (Gold, 64GB, 4GB RAM)
    Rs.15,996
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro (Black, 64GB, 4GB RAM) –
    Rs.15,999
  • Refurbished – Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro (64GB, 4GB RAM)
    COD not available
    Rs.12,999

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Nokia X5 aka Nokia 5.1 Plus Launch Teased for July 11 in China

Nokia X5 aka Nokia 5.1 Plus Launch Teased for July 11 in China

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The poster for the launch event was teased on Weibo
  • Nokia X5 is expected to be dubbed the Nokia 5.1 Plus in global markets
  • It will sport a display notch, dual rear camera setup

Earlier this week, we saw reports suggesting July 11 to be the launch date of the upcoming Nokia X5 aka the Nokia 5.1 Plus. As part of the latest developments, HMD Global licensed brand Nokia has now officially teased the smartphone’s launch that is set for 8pm China time (5:30pm IST) on July 11. The teaser reveals that a new handset in the Nokia X series will be unveiled at the product event, which tips the launch of the rumoured Nokia X5 in China. A live stream will be available for the event. This smartphone will reportedly be called the Nokia 5.1 Plus in international markets.

As per a post on Nokia’s official Weibo account on Monday, a new Nokia X-Series phone is all set to become a reality in China come July 11. Last week, a poster had been spotted on Chinese search engine Baidu that showed off alleged posters of the Nokia X5 in China; the smartphone is expected to get a price tag of CNY 799 (roughly Rs. 8,300) for the 32GB variant and CNY 999 (roughly Rs. 10,400) for the 64GB model. As for design elements, much like the recently launched Nokia X6, even the Nokia X5 will sport a display notch and a bezel-less display. The phone will also get a dual camera setup and a fingerprint sensor at the back.

As for specifications, previous leaks suggest the Nokia X5 will sport a 5.86-inch HD+ (720×1520 pixels) TFT display with a 19:9 aspect ratio. It might be powered by an octa-core SoC, possibly from the MediaTek P series or the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 series. This will be coupled with 3GB/ 4GB/ 6GB of RAM and 32GB/ 64GB of inbuilt storage.

In terms of optics, we can expect the Nokia X5 to sport a vertical dual rear camera setup with a 13-megapixel primary sensor. A 8-megapixel selfie sensor might adorn the front of the smartphone. Connectivity might include 4G LTE, Bluetooth, USB, while battery capacity is set at 3000mAh.

An official post by Nokia had also suggested the company’s two smartphones are in the works for launch later this year, one powered by a Snapdragon 710 SoC and the other by the flagship Snapdragon 845.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Facebook Unveils Workplace for Good as Free Tool for Non-Profit Organisations

Facebook Unveils Workplace for Good as Free Tool for Non-Profit Organisations

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Workplace Premium costs $3 per user per month
  • Facebook looks to offer Workplace Premium for free to non-profits
  • It has already partnered with organisations like WWF, Unicef, and more

Facebook launched its Workplace by Facebook service two years ago, providing social tools to companies to ease intra-office communication. It is a subscription product, competing mostly with Slack, and charges $3 per user per month. Now, the company has launched something known as Workplace for Good which gives non-profit organizations all the tools of Workplace Premium for free, without any subscription fees.

Through Workplace for Good, Facebook is offering Workplace Premium free to non-profits and staff at educational institutions globally. It has already partnered with organisations like the World Wildlife Fund, Comic Relief, Unicef, Save the Children, RNIB, NRC, It Gets Better, Australian Catholic University and the Miami Dade School District.

“We’re also investing in a dedicated team to grow our efforts in this space, alongside a new online resource center that brings together product information, success stories, and videos to help organizations take the first step,” Annette Gevaert, Head of Workplace for Good-Facebook said in the company’s blog.

Workplace provides tools like live video streaming, group messaging, News Feed announcements, and voice and video calls across desktop and mobile platforms. It also gives access to Workplace and Workchat apps on iOS and Android both. There’s also unlimited file, photo, and video storage, along with integration with other file storage providers. It ensures secure collaboration between companies, and comes with a desktop notifier for Windows devices. The Premium variant has enterprise features like administrative controls to manage your community, monitoring tools for IT team, APIs for custom integrations, integrations with e-discovery and compliance providers, single sign-on (SSO), active Directory support, 1:1 email support for administrators, and integration with G Suite, Okta, and Windows Azure AD.

All organisations that are not non-profits can also use Workplace Premium for free for 90 days, after which the subscription fees will be levied. Anyone who has a Workplace account can ask for Workplace for Good accessibility. To try Workplace Premium for free, head here and to enrol for Workplace for Good, head here.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]