1 year ago

Day 4 - IFA International

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  • Global
  • September
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  • Berlin
  • Panel
  • Consumers
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  • Electronics


MEET THE VISIONARIES B.B. HWANG PRESIDENT AND CEO DIGITAL MEDIA COMPANY LG ELECTRONICS INC. The Truth About Digital Convergence Current View … and Outlook l. to r.: Richard Barnes, Editor in Chief of IFA International and B.B. Hwang, President and CEO Digital Media Company, LG Electronics Inc. Interview by Richard Barnes In today’s world of digital convergence and with the onset of HD in Europe, your job must be becoming increasingly interesting. Please tell us about the main innovations LG is bringing to the fore in Q4… The most important of our innovations is the BD player, which utilises the network. It allows users to enjoy movies and videos on demand utilising the Internet. Also it has the offline playback function, which means that the BD player encompasses both offline and online functions. It will be launched in autumn this year and will be also incorporated into our future Home Cinema systems. That is the main focus for innovation. It records in HD? Next year we will have a BD recorder with digital broadcasting tuner in HD. We will also announce a portable DVD player with DVB-T, which has an HD tuner integrated and a photoframe function. While LG developed the first dual-format HD disc player and drive last year, HD-DVD has “lost the battle”. What will the next challenges be in this area, and what is your roadmap for Blu-ray Disc? As I have mentioned, we have network support function for BD players, home cinema, and recorders alike. In the US, a company by the name of Netflix actually supplies on DVD rentals and online services currently. If you were to use the Netflix service now, either you use an offline DVD player or if you go online you need a personal computer. But the downside of using computers to watch movies is that the consumer experience is not the same as watching TV. So you do not have the luxury of sitting on a couch watching a large screen. With the computer not only do you have go through the inconvenient process of logging on the Internet, but you also have to sitting at a table looking at a small screen. Unlike that service, our DB player will allow our clients to use a remote control to log onto our services and select movies, just like watching TV. The major innovation of our product is that it will provide the consumers with an experience of easy access and convenient use against the backdrop of consumer insights. For optical storage, we have maintained the number one position for the past decade and this is definitely a distinguishing point for us. We continue to lead the speed competition in this area as well. We actually plan to launch completely integrate BD in all of our products, including our portfolio of desktop computers, notebook computers, the slot format (which is usually used by Apple) and external systems. Basically we try to meet consumer needs. There was a customer need for Blu-Ray and HD, and Blu-ray won the battle. But actually there is another trend coming into the market, which is the online PC movie needs. The trend is that people want to get online movies, but want them in the living room setting. So there is a dual need there: Blu-ray and also online, and then there is VOD. Basically our theme is, ‘whatever the consumer needs, we will meet it with innovation’. Personal Navigation Devices and car AV are interesting areas of development. What are your plans in business (and product) terms here for the next year? For our navigation devices, rather than portable devices, we will be focusing on car built-in devices meaning that we will be focusing on products that encompass audio, video, and navigation functions with the possibility of adding telematics to those systems. And for the car audio and video section, we will not only concentrate on the built-in but also on the aftermarket devices at the same time. In addition to our systems, we are planning to add direct iPod connections, USB hosts, and Bluetooth functions for the convenience of our users. The use of new OS/CPU technologies is being used by LG as a differentiator in the PC division. Since the introduction of Intel Dual Core Processors and Windows Vista, what will the future see in the PC division? Well first, for LG personal computers, we have always been the first to respond to new Intel platforms and 18 IFA International • Monday, 1 st September 2008

MEET THE VISIONARIES with key retailers in Europe so we are having a lot of top-level meetings with them. We try to listen to our retailers when it comes to product planning so we want to strengthen our relationships with them. Is the online channel going to be all-direct or third party? Actually, mainly not direct but third party through our partners. new Microsoft Windows software, so we are always the first to market. Further innovations include the world’s first Digital Mobile Broadcast tuner embedded EVDO (Evolution-Data Optimised) notebook computers and also HSDP imbedded notebook computers. These different functions embedded into our notebook computers not only enhance the convenience for the users, but also facilitate many different types of applications. Added to these functional aspects of our notebook computers, we always emphasise the portability of our notebook computers to make sure that they are thin, light and also stylish. Emphasising the stylish side of our notebook computers actually won us the Red Dot award in 2004, the first notebook computer to win after Apple. And in 2006 we were awarded the best of best Red Dot Award at their ceremony for our notebook computer and our designers won the best design team. For the laptops, what are the plans for rollout in Europe? We currently have launched our notebook computers in 6 European countries and we will take a close look at the market trends for further decisions on expansions. What are the sweet spots for LG Digital Media Division? As I said before, optical storage has won us number one for the last decade, which also brought us a lot of revenues and profits. Alongside optical storage, we also have the number two position in ODD based DVD players and home theatres. As for our home theatres, we are aiming to become the number one brand this year and as a strategy to achieve this, we are aiming at stylish designs and enhancing sound quality. And we wish to maintain the number one position after achieving it in BD home theatre by expanding to BD players and BD recorders as well. And we look forward our car telematics being number one in the North American market by 2010 and in the European market in 2011 and also the number one worldwide position by then. To this end, we have a car telematics project contract until 2012 with GM as their main supplier. How are the sales channels evolving in Europe? What is changing in the way you go to market? We are trying to expand levels by our sales channels. We are focusing on premium channels. We are uniting our brand image in different countries. Now we are in a market position, which will allow us to expand our sales channel and so therefore we want to expand it to mass level which can help our business. The second thing is our online channel. More and more clients are buying IT products from online channel. LG had been more conservative in the past concerning the online channel, but now we are becoming more agressive and that will become our main channel in the future. We not only want to focus on retailers, but also cover some dealers or system integrators, on a kind of semi- B2B level, to provide and better products, but better solutions. Lastly, we are looking at forging stronger partnerships Finally, how important is IFA to you for getting your message across to international media and trade? IFA is obviously the leading trade show where major consumer electronics brands participating. Actually, LG has attended IFA since 1981 and never missed a year. We have used it as a venue to showcase our innovative products along with our corporate vision and our own unique brand and image. LG’s new brand identity is “Perfect Harmony of Stylish Design and Smart Technology”. And so against this backdrop along with consumer insights, we have always utilised IFA to showcase our audio and video products and we will also look forward our opportunity to reveal our brand image and vision to the world-wide community. Mr. B.B. Hwang has been the man behind LG's high-tech business and core technologies for almost three decades. Since he joined the then GoldStar Central R&D Center in 1977 as a researcher, Mr. Hwang has contributed to LG’s research and development efforts, which eventually led the company to its current success. Mr. Hwang became the general manager of LG's PC division after working in the Information Technology R&D Center in Silicon Valley and serving as the Chief Researcher in LG's PC Division. In 2003, Mr. Hwang was made Executive Vice President of the Information Technology Business Unit, which later became LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company. In the business unit, he was initially responsible for overseeing the business development division and later the CDMA division. His most recent role in the IT Business Unit was Executive Vice President of the European Division. As President and CEO of LG Electronics Digital Media Company, which holds top global market share in three product categories, Mr. Hwang is focusing on the development of new core technologies while maintaining the market leadership of existing products. Mr. Hwang earned his Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from Seoul National University. IFA International • Monday, 1 st September 2008 19

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