As I Was Saying

TV Set Makers Ramp Up Tech Pitches

7/02/2011 11:52 PM

July 4th weekend is typically not a big time for TV set sales. Other than Wimbledon, there is sparse programming that clatters for a new big screen in the home.

Hence the two full-page ads on the back pages of two Wall Street Journal sections on Thursday jumped out. They may be harbingers of a feature/function war that TV set manufacturers will wage during the coming season; they are also follow-ups to the product unveilings at the previous week’s “Consumer Electronics Week” and its line show (sales updates on the new products) in New York.

LG’s bold full-pager is the more striking of the two Journal ads, if only because of its in-your-face punch at Sony and Samsung. LG tells its rivals they “better stick to 2D,” citing its own “consumer perception study” in which “four out of 5 people chose LG Cinema 3D over Sony and Samsung.” On the website backing it up, there are details about how many viewers favored the LG set in a face-off with the other brands.

Such comparative ads are rare among the top tier of TV manufacturers, although LG has not been shy about its confrontational stance toward its fellow Korean competitor Samsung. Bringing Sony into the fray allows LG to put itself into the top rung of perceived “best” TV brands, although Samsung has been the category leader recently.

The bigger dilemma is why LG is pushing 3D right now, when market apathy is rampant about such capability. There’s still plenty of industry chatter about 3D, but it was noticeably toned down at the recent NCTA Cable Show and at consumer electronics events, compared to the 2010 buzz.

Separately, Sharp, in its full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal introduced “the largest LED LCD TV in America,” a 70-inch behemoth for “under $3,299.” Among the features singled out was its built-in Wi-Fi capacity, which includes “over a hundred apps.” < www.sharpusa.com/aquos > Early adopters or upgraders who want the nearly 6-foot (diagonal) screen - and have space for it - are into “big” rather than plentiful.

Yet the constant reminders about the availability of video apps is likely to distract viewers of the big new sets to click over to that new source of video - rather than tuning into the sports and movie channels for which they are paying.
Gary Arlen is president of Arlen Communications LLC in Bethesda, MD, and a long-time interactive TV enthusiast. Reach him at GArlen@ArlenCom.com