Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics have entered the cheap TV market pioneered by supermarket chains E-Mart and Lotte Mart and Internet shopping malls.
During a press event for its new products on Wednesday, Samsung's visual display division chief Kim Hyun-suk said, "We plan to release low-end TV models in a month or two. We've already completed the product lineup.
LG Electronics also disclosed plans last month to release cheap TVs in the first half of this year. It is preparing to release a large affordable 40-inch TV as well as a budget 32-inch one.
An industry insider speculated the models will cost about W500,000 (US$1=W1,116), or about W50,000-100,000 more than the TVs sold in outlet stores. Currently, Samsung and LG's 32-inch LED TVs sell for W800,000 in big electronics store chains like Hi-Mart. Samsung and LG's new cheap models will likely come with price tags of about 30 percent less.
Bargain-price TVs were first introduced when E-Mart started selling 32-inch own-brand LCD TVs for W499,000 last October. The initial inventory of 5,000 sold out in just two days.
Afterwards, Lotte Mart introduced similar models at similar prices. Online shopping malls like GMarket and Auction sparked the competition by releasing low-end TV models in collaboration with small businesses. It is estimated that about 40,000 cheap TVs were sold last year, accounting for about 2 percent of the entire domestic TV market of 2 million units a year.