KOREA/JAPAN: Sony's plan to take the 3D fight to LG and Samsung on home turf looks set to spark a price war
For those of us brought up on the old order, where the big Japanese companies held the technological high ground and the upstart Korean rivals carved out a market share with aggressive pricing, here comes a culture-shock.
Sony has announced plans to launch a major attack on the South Korean TV market with its LED edge-lit 3D TVs – and it's going to do so by undercutting Samsung and LG on price!
The South Korean domestic market is widely acknowledged as a tough one for overseas brands: customers tend to be fiercely loyal to their local companies, and as I have observed in the past, you see more Mercedes and BMWs on the streets of Seoul than you do Nissans or Toyotas.
And that means precious few of the European cars, and basically no Japanese-made ones.
Same goes for consumer electronics, accounting in no small part for the way LG and Samsung dominate everything from mobile phones to TVs and domestic appliances.
Now, however, Sony reckons it's found a way in: it's planning to launch 3D TVs in Korea in July, and according to inside sources quoted by The Korea Times, it'll be going with a 40in 3D LED-lit model at 3.66m won (around £2150) and a 46-incher at 4.4m won, or about £2575. Both will come with two sets of 3D glasses.
That will give them a price advantage over the 55in LED backlit models LG and Samsung are already selling on the domestic market, at prices ranging from 5m to 6m won (£3000-3500).
Like the domestic models, the Sony Bravias will also be able to 'upconvert' 2D content to give a 3D effect, and Sony Korea representative Hong Ji-eun told the paper 'Sony will be better positioned for price competitiveness. Although it's too early to talk, we are considering reviewing the possibility of starting pre-order sales.'
Korean analysts say the Sony move will be welcomed by consumers wanting to buy more affordable 3D sets, but expect LG and Samsung to fight back on price against the move.
And that, I suspect, will prove a novel experience for all three companies...