Led by chips, Korean ICT exports hit a record high in 2014

2015_01_ICT exportKorea’s exports of information and communications technology (ICT) products and services reached a record high of $170 billion last year, the government reported Thursday. According to data released by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, ICT products accounted for almost 30 percent of the nation’s $573 billion in exports, contributing to a 2014 trade surplus of $86.3 billion.

Semiconductors were the top ICT export category, thanks to DRAM and 3-D NAND flash memory chips. In 2014, memory chips became the nation’s first export product to surpass $60 billion, increasing 9.6 percent year-on-year to reach $62.7 billion. Semiconductor exports surged 33.2 percent last year to a record $34 billion, while shipments of system semiconductors slumped 9.8 percent to $22.5 billion. Exports of display panels slipped 3.2 percent, as demand dropped in China, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Chinese producers of cheaper panels also dragged down prices for LCD televisions.

For full article, see Joongang Daily.


LG Display to invest 706 bln won in OLED TV line

LG Display Co., the world’s second-largest display maker, on Monday announced plans to invest 706 billion won ($652 million) in OLED TV facilities in efforts to strengthen its leadership in OLED technology. The investment in the 8th generation OLED TV manufacturing line, set to be installed in the company’s Paju plant in suburban Seoul, is scheduled to begin in the first quarter, LG Display said in a press release. Mass production is set to begin in the first half of 2014 at a monthly capacity of 26,000 input sheets, according to the display maker.

The investment plan comes as global manufacturers are ramping up efforts to gain a bigger stake in the market for premium TVs, such as OLED TVs and ultra HD TVs. The display maker’s affiliate LG Electronics Inc. began pre-orders for its 55-inch OLED TVs last month, racing ahead of rival Samsung Electronics Co. in rolling out the large-display OLED TVs.

For full article, see Korea Herald.

Boon for next-generation displays

Korean scientists have developed new organic materials that may help the electronics industry produce next-generation displays and maintain its global competitiveness. A team of scientists led by professor Choi Dong-hoon of Korea University said it has discovered extended conjugated molecules through compounds of porphyrin. The porphyrin derivatives may be used to boost the efficiency of semiconducting devices such as organic field-effect transistors for next generation displays, it said.

The organic materials could be applied to the development of flexible displays, transparent displays and foldable displays, or the convergence of all these types of future displays, which, experts said, could replace newspapers and magazines in the near future. The team found that the materials provide “strong intermolecular interactions, while enhancing the charge-transport efficiency” in organic FETs as well as optoelectronic devices.

For full article, see Korea Herald.

LG to mass-produce flexible displays

It remains to be seen whether Future generations of the iPhone could have flexible organic light emitting diode (OLED) displays that can bend and twist.

LG Display, a major supplier of flat-screens to Apple, confirmed Thursday it would be able to mass produce flexible OLED displays from the second-half of next year.

Han Sang-beom, LG Display’s CEO, didn’t reveal any names when talking about the orders the company has been receiving. However, it’s difficult to presume LG Display attempting such a big jump in technologies without commitment from Apple, its largest customer for screens.

It’s hard to predict when smartphones with rubbery touch screens will ever be commercialized, but Han says at least LG Display’s screens will be there by the end of 2013.

For full article see Korea Times.

Smartphones make home smarter

A refrigerator by LG Electronics is linked to smart devices. When receipts and bar codes of groceries are scanned with a smartphone, the list of items bought is automatically sent to the refrigerator. Information such as expiration dates or recipes are sent to the handsets. “Smart Home Net” solution by Samsung Electronics connects home appliances with smartphones so that they can automatically be checked and receive upgrades.

They are examples of “smart hybrids,” where diverse products, ranging from home appliances to cars, are being linked with devices like smartphones and tablets to turn smart.

Heo Jeong-wook, a researcher at KT Economic and Business Research Institute, notes in a report that smart hybrids are increasingly being chosen by manufacturers as an easier and more effective way of making their products smarter, instead of producing appliances that are smart themselves.

“An increasing number of consumers are becoming accustomed to smart devices. However, the debut of new electronics devices cause “technology stress,” Heo said. According to a Job Korea survey, one third of salaried workers said they feel anxious because they are not used to or don’t know how to properly use computers and the latest technology. They are, meanwhile, good at using smartphones, with three out of ten spending over three hours a day on them. He added that around 40 percent of Americans were using smartphones last year. Korean Internet users spend 2.2 hours a day online, and they log on to the Web through smartphones rather than desktop computers.

People now want to control other appliances with their phones and tablets. “There has emerged a one-device multi service paradigm, amid the expansion of smart hybrid devices,” Heo said.

For full article see Korea Times.

Samsung approves LCD spinoff

Korea’s tech giant Samsung Electronics Co. said Friday that its shareholders approved the spinoff of its liquid-crystal display (LCD) business as part of a move to bolster the money-losing sector’s competitiveness.

At an annual meeting held in Seoul, shareholders passed a motion to create an independent display unit, the company said. The new company, provisionally named Samsung Display Co., will be launched on April 1, with a capital of 750 billion won ($667 million).

Under the separation arrangement, Samsung Electronics will control 100 percent of the display company’s shares, while the new LCD manufacturer will inherit assets, debts and other corporate and labor obligations.

Park Dong-gun, the current head of Samsung’s LCD business device, has been tapped to be the new president.

For full article see Korea Times.

Korea’s IT industry in transition

IT has become a mainstay of Korea’s export driven economy, and aggressive investments have made Korean firms into dominant players in semiconductors, LCD panels, and mobile phones. Despite their success, new challenges await Korean firms in the form of increased competition from China, and pressure to diversify into components and software.

Korea’s IT and electronics industry began with assembly of radio sets in the 1950s. By the 1980s, Korean firms had moved into semiconductor production, and by the 1990s, Korean firms were producing high quality consumer electronics and exploring high-speed Internet services. IT is now one of the nation’s backbone industries, accounting for nearly 11 percent of GDP, and 33 percent of exports in 2010. Korea’s IT success has thus far been mostly a hardware phenomenon, but Korean firms are now increasingly looking into software as the industry evolves.

IT Drives Korea’s Export
Korea’s IT exports reached $158.8 billion in 2011, a three-fold increase from 2001. Share for the IT industry in exports is characteristically high, peaking at 39 percent in 2004, though this is expected to decline to 29 percent in 2011. The trade surplus for IT, moreover, has consistently outstripped the nation’s overall trade balance since 2001. Even during the global financial crisis of 2008, when Korea posted a trade deficit of $13 billion, the IT industry recorded a surplus of $58 billion. Korean IT has also been a strong performer in comparison to other nations. After ranking third in the world from 2005 to 2008, Korean IT’s trade balance overtook Japan in 2009 and 2010 to take the No. 2 spot behind China. In terms of IT export volume, Korea climbed to 5th in the world in 2009 from 10th in 2001, greatly narrowing the gap with No. 4 Japan.

For full article see Infomag of EUCCK.

Korean firms nervous over OLED race

Korea is being pressured to cement its current leadership in the new wave of display technology amid the rapid rise of Japan and China in futuristic screens, Korea’s biggest display lobby group said Wednesday.

Major display makers are moving toward thinner and brighter organic-light emitting diode (OLED) displays to find new growth engines amid the saturation of demand for conventional liquid crystal display (LCD) products.

Thanks to its myriad of merits, OLED represents the future, representing a huge growth opportunity in coming years with Samsung dominating the sector.

For full article see Korea Times.

Korea’s IT exports stand at USD13.24 billion

Korean IT products

The Ministry of Knowledge Economy announced on December 5th that Korea’s IT exports fell 2.5% to USD13.26 billion, in November. Semiconductor exports recovered to the level of last year while recording USD4.09 billion, up 0.9% from a year earlier in spite of difficult external conditions such as the flood in Thailand and the global financial crisis and a fall in prices of major products such as D-RAMs and LCD panels. 

Display panel exports reached USD2.66 billion, down 2.5% from a year before but exports to China and the EU rose 3.1% and 4.9%, respectively. New convergence products such as system semiconductors continued to enjoy an increase in their exports which stood at USD1.89 billion, up 21.7% from a year before.

Therefore, Korea’s cumulative IT exports from January through November added up to USD144.45 billion, up 2.5% from a year earlier. Cell phone exports slid in November for three straight months due to the expansion of Korean companies’ global production.

For full article see: Korea IT Times