Samsung held a press conference yesterday in Korea, in which they launched their first OLED TV, the KN55S9 curved Full-HD one. The TV is now shipping in Korea for 15 million Won (just over $13,000) - exactly the same price of LG's own 55EA9800 55" curved FHD TV. Samsung promises it will launch this TV in more countries next month.
Samsung didn't reveal a lot of technical details on this new curve OLED TV. They simply say that it offers the "perfect picture quality", as the distance from the viewer to the TV screen is the same from almost any angle. It sports a "timeless arena" design (the display is placed within a luxurious frame whose curved shape mirrors the curvature of an arena). The TV supports Multi-view (where two viewers can watch two different programs using active-shutter 3D glasses) and Samsung's Evolution Kit, (which means users can add features in the future).
Samsung first launched their curved OLED TVs at CES 2013 (shown below). Back then I didn't think they will launch this TV commercially so soon, but there you have it. The panel is probably the same as was seen at CES, but the design is different with the new curved external frame.
Samsung now says that they have no plans to launch regular non-curve OLED TVs in 2013. In fact, the company warns that analysts expectations for fast growth in the OLED TV market is a bit too optimistic. DisplaySearch estimates that 300,000 OLED TVs will be sold in 2014. Supply expects only 1,600 units to sell in 2013, 200,000 in 2014 and 1.7 million in 2015. LG Display themselves sees about 600,000 - 700,000 OLED TV shipments in 2014. Taiwan's ITRI sees 50,000 OLED TVs sold in 2013 and 3.24 million in 2015. Lux Research on the other hand, sees only 7,000 OLED TV sold in 2014.
LG recently announced a $650 million OLED TV Gen-9 fab that will have a production capacity of about 50,000 OLED TVs monthly. Samsung is yet to commit to a large OLED TV fab. The company is evidently still wants to gauge user reaction to their OLED TVs before they commit to the massive investment required for a mass production fab. Samsung is also still issuing technological issues (mostly with production yields).
So why did Samsung launch this TV now? I think this is only a reaction to LG's own OLED TV launch earlier in 2013. Now Samsung can say it is shipping OLED TVs too, even though obviously this isn't a product that will sell in any meaningful quantities. I guess Samsung is still struggling with low yields (even though reports suggested otherwise) and still cannot mass produce OLED TVs, and they hope that this is a good solution from a marketing point of view.