Show-Off Korean IT Firms Encourage Chinese Copycats

Samsung and LG have been showcasing a number of record-breaking products at the world's leading IT or electronics fairs, and Chinese companies have released almost exact copies within six months or a year.

◆ Copycats

One Chinese firm displayed a TV at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January that has such a slim rim that seems nearly invisible. This was similar to an LG product unveiled in 2012. LG believes not only the design but also the technology was copied.

Samsung unveiled a TV whose screen stands slightly tilted like a canvas on an easel at last year's CES, and eight months later at the IFA in Berlin, China's TCL displayed almost the same TV.

Meanwhile, a Haier air conditioner showcased at CES in January seemed suspiciously similar to one from LG, since both have round holes instead of a grille in the ventilation area.

That is why security is of huge concern for Korean companies. When LG showed the world's first 77-inch OLED display TV at the IFA last year, the ex-chief of the company's home entertainment business, Kwon Hee-won, said he thought about not unveiling the product due to concerns over technology leaks.

◆ Dilemma

Many cutting-edge technological innovations that Korean companies display at various fairs are not immediately ready for mass production. The world's first curved TVs shown by LG and Samsung at last year's CES are hitting the market only now.

One CEO of a Korean electronics firm said, "There is a tendency to unveil the latest technological achievements although they will not be manufactured in the near future, but it's time to rethink whether this is a wise move as we continue to give away ideas for China to copy and catch up."

Although Chinese companies are copying Korean products, they are still behind the key technologies. For example, many Chinese businesses displayed a great number of UHD TVs in CES this year, but the quality of display and definition lagged far behind Korean products.

However, the speed with which China is catching up is getting faster. Some are skeptical about the effectiveness of showing off innovations at fairs, but the marketing effects are too great to give up.

englishnews@chosun.com / Mar. 29, 2014 08:18 KST