Samsung Teases “Unprecedented TV” to Keep Ahead of Apple at CES

| Analysis

Samsung has teased what it is calling, "a true innovation of TV design" and an "unprecedented new TV shape and timeless design" for CES 2013. The company included an image that might indicate the new device is see-through, and definitely shows that Samsung has no intention to cede the TV market to Apple.

First, the image.

Samsung Tease

Samsung Promo Pic for New TV

That image was posted to Samsung's Korean language blog SamsungTomorrow (as spotted by The Verge) with no other information than the quote mentioned above.

The question, of course, is what that image actually represents. Is it a see-through TV or a bleak and washed out image that's supposed to connote the idea that this TV can add a tree to a beach. Or maybe it's a snowscape. It's hard to tell, but at least there's a tree.

In portrait mode. Because people are clamoring for TVs in portrait mode.

Whatever, the real message here is that Samsung has some very cool technology and is not about to let Apple sheen in with some Steve Jobs "I've finally cracked it" nonsense and go all disruptive. At least not without a fight.

For sure, there's nothing specific to Apple in this tease. The iPhone-maker isn't mentioned, but you can be sure that Samsung has all of these Apple TV rumors on its collective corporate mind.

To wit: a year ago, Philip Newton, Samsung Australia’s director of audio-visual, said that Mr. Jobs’s revelation about “the simplest [TV] user interface you can imagine” is “nothing new.”

He added, “When Steve Jobs talked about he’s ‘cracked it’, he’s talking about connectivity – so we’ve had that in the market already for 12 months, it’s nothing new, it was new for them because they didn’t play in the space. It’s old news as far as the traditional players are concerned and we have broadened that with […] things like voice control and touch control; the remote control for these TVs has a touch pad.”

In other words, a Samsung executive felt compelled to dismiss whatever it is that Apple is working on even though Samsung has no clue what that even is.

Since then, rumors about Apple entering the TV space have gotten more serious. We've gone from quotes about Steve Jobs working on a TV interface in his biography, to Tim Cook telling the world that his company is serious about TVs. Added to that are a flurry of leaks from Apple's supply chain about Apple testing and/or building TV sets for release in 2013.

You can be absolutely sure that Samsung takes this very, very seriously. If Apple can disrupt the TV market like it did smartphones and tablets (and netbooks), Samsung could find itself hurting. It's a global leader in the status quo market, and Apple gaining share in that space would likely come at Samsung's expense to at least some extent.

That said, 2012 showed us that Samsung is a formidable opponent, especially when Apple is there to show the company how to do it. In TVs, the company is more formidable still. Samsung is a global leader in display production, and it has years and years of experience making TVs.

What we see in this tease from Samsung is a reminder to the rest of the world that this is so, that Samsung is a leader in this industry. It may or may not be intending to release a portrait-mode TV (come on, seriously?) that you can see through (OK, that's seriously cool, if impractical), but it has all manner of patents and killer technology in this space.

More importantly, Samsung is not afraid to use those patents and killer technologies. That's what Samsung is telling us with this tease.

Too bad it won't matter. If Apple releases a TV—whatever it is the company has planned—you can be sure that it will be disruptive, and you can be sure that Apple will own one more key technologies that make it possible.

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Comments

Constable Odo

I doubt Samsung has anything to worry about from Apple.  All Samsung has to do is copy the Apple product and sell for less.  That formula always seems to work well enough for Apple rivals.  Wall Street is always saying that Apple’s products are nothing special and that any company can come along and replace Apple by completely commoditizing Apple’s product line.

jbruni

If Samsung is so great in building TVs, why do they suck compared to Visio? I don’t (yet) own either brand since I’m still looking. But by every comparison I’ve done personally, the Visio is better. Is there something I’m missing?

Lancashire-Witch

Simple UI ?

Fridge, washing machine, TV—— The UI of all of the Samsung products I have just confuses me in a way that Panasonic, Sony, Westinghouse never did.

Lee Dronick

AAPL up on news that Samsung is developing an “Unprecedented TV.” smile

Seriously we will have to wait and see watch each company has to offer before running the spreadsheet. So I am going to kick the cathode down the road until it goes over the video cliff and then I will throw it under the busbar.

Intruder

You know you have power when you can make a competitor react to something that you have never even said you would do…

CudaBoy

Seems Apple has already ceded the smart TV market to Samsung just as they ceded the mini tab market to Nexus/Android until caught with their slow pants down. And, unlike Apple’s mini - the Nexus has GPS built in, high def screen, faster processor (quad core) on and on so not only late but feature deficient compared to Nexus…  you Apple clones that think Samsung copies Apple should get a room, you’re pathetic. Where is NFC?? Oh, I forgot Apple devices have no NFC.
Guess who makes the LCD panels for Sony?? Right, Samsung - not garbage recyclers like Vizio, Insignia, LG and others.
Samsung has had smart TV’s with wireless Internet and motion sensing menus and smart phone remotes for years. Apple is late again - too big and slow like 70’s-80’s IBM. All Apple toys look dated now - big thick and heavy.
And don’t forget, Apple has copied as much from others as the other way around - just check the lawsuits and results. Still, maybe Apple SHOULD copy the slick thin design of Samsung and add better screens and features like Samsung does. Apple must hate using Samsung for there device components.
And stop talking about an Apple TV - it’s vaporware until otherwise proven. Meanwhile Samsung moves ahead.  Sorry, but there is no need to wait, you can fill the spreadsheet out now because Apple isn’t even in the game and Samsung has ZERO competition in the smart TV market for years now. Clones crack me up.

John Dingler, artist

I refuse to get a Nexus until it gets more ports, and I want at least twelve cables hanging from the front to create a mustache and twenty-two from the top to remind me of a forest; You see, I like nature.

RonMacGuy

Nice trolling, CudaBoy.  I used to think a bit more highly of you, but this is pretty sad coming from you.

Apple ceded the mini tab market to nexus/android?  Really?

http://iphone.appleinsider.com/articles/12/12/28/insatiable_demand_for_ipad_mini_drives_stock_outs_in_china.html

“‘Insatiable demand’ for iPad mini drives stock-outs in China.  Customers in both Hong Kong and China have demonstrated considerable interest in Apple’s newly launched iPad mini, leading to stock-outs and limited availability.

Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets said his checks in China and Hong Kong have found there is “insatiable demand” for the iPad mini. While Apple’s smaller iPad launched in Hong Kong on Nov. 2, nearly all models of the 7.9-inch tablet were completely sold out this week.

And in mainland China, the iPad mini went on sale Dec. 7, where it was also met with strong interest. The iPad mini has also been out of stock at Apple’s retail stores in China this week, White said.

“Prior to the China launch, we indicated that the iPad mini would be the ‘next big thing in China’ and we believe this phenomenon is starting to develop,” he said. “In our view, the smaller form factor and lower price point will allow Apple to sell the iPad mini in more meaningful volumes versus the regular-size iPad.”

In fact, his checks in both Hong Kong and China have found that the iPad mini has already proven more popular with consumers than the fourth-generation iPad.”

RonMacGuy

Most of your post doesn’t deserve a response CudaBoy, but I had to laugh at your argument regarding Samsung copying Apple.  So just because Samsung has NFC and Apple doesn’t this somehow implies that Samsung doesn’t copy Apple.  Talk about pathetic!!  You are a complete joke, CudaBoy!!

Brockway

Samsung will offer a 3-D tv that does not require glasses.

skipaq

Obviously, this is a new concept TV for couch potatoes. It has a sensor that adjusts the orientation of the TV to the orientation of the primary viewer. Who said Samsung couldn’t innovate? wink

Intruder

NFC… A feature people aren’t caring about in droves.

3-D TV… another feature that has been met with a resounding “meh”.

OldMorris

Samsung can innovate. They innovate RFC which is maybe important, might use it. They obviously innovated the multitouch interface. All other companies are struggling with android whereas Samsung innovated a way to modify android to make it appealing to the masses, hence why they sell so many. They innovated bigger phones. They also innovated phone-bumping advertising, other phones with apps may have had phone-bumping first, but Samsung made it part of their advertising first. Samsung also putatively innovated connected tv’s with interfaces that are… complicated, although gimmicky, still an innovation. Samsung might not innovate things that you really want or need but they do innovate and what they don’t innovate they can always copy, screen-for-screen, function-for-function, button-for-button, right down to the richer more luxurious feel.

Artyom

It’s a pity Steve can’t this circus anymore. My only question is if TV cracking is old news for Samsung why the TV market hasn’t been disrupted by Samsung yet? Oh right - there is nothing to copy Yet.

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