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MEET THE VISIONARIES VIDEO Design For The Good Life © Photo: Konstanze-Paula Grüning Simon Kang Executive Vice President, LG Electronics Head of Digital Displays Company Since joining LG in 1986 as a general manager for the company’s facility in Worms, Germany, Mr. Kang has built up impressive international experience through a number of management positions in Germany, Canada and the United States as well as in Seoul. © Photo: Konstanze-Paula Grüning In 2000, after an already illustrious career in, he moved up to become President of LG Electronics’ U.S. Digital Appliance Brand Management division, leading the successful launch of LG’s digital appliance business in U.S. Before taking his current position, Mr. Kang was the company’s Head of Korean Sales and Marketing Operations. We asked Mr Kang what his priorities are when planning new product launches... Mark Dezzani, IFA International interviewing Simon Kang “We have three: Picture quality, Design and Features inside the TV. It goes without saying that picture quality is a must because after all TVs are display units, but you can’t compete on picture quality alone. As TV sets get bigger the importance of design grows. That is why design is the second important factor. Picture quality in almost all TVs has increased greatly so it is important to understand what consumers needs are. What is LG’s approach to design? We have a ‘Lifestyle Design’ team within our company. They go to major markets and visit customers’ homes and they see how the TV is being used, as well as looking at where consumers have chosen to place their TV sets. So the first phase is idea generation, the second is the screening of these ideas. In some cases we go to customers and put forward a product idea and then through that screening process the final concepts arrive at the design centre where they go into full development. These concepts go not only to our internal design centre but also associated design centres outside the company and then there is a competition between them. The champagne flute and ring designs (Design Art Series) came from our internal design centre. With the dominance of LCD screens do you see a future for Plasma? LCDs and PDPs both have their pros and cons. PDPs perform better with fast moving images and for reproducing natural colours. In terms of electricity consumption and brightness LCD has the upper hand. For the time being I believe that competition between the two camps will continue. As for who will be the ultimate winner, so far LCD seems to be winning with its wide product range. But in terms of the larger screens, PDP has the cost competitiveness so you cannot predict with absolute certainty that LCDs will win. Needless to say we remain committed to both technologies. Has the slow roll out of HD Broadcast hindered the sale of HD sets? Starting with HD Ready to full HD to 60 p full HD the technology has been on a full development path and so far we have been selling these products with almost no broadcast support. There is a reason behind the steady sale of HD TVs even though the broadcasters don’t support it yet. Water and other commodities you buy everyday but consumers think that a TV is something that you buy and keep for ten years. Consumer demand is the important factor here. Do you see sustained growth for LG in the flat screen market? We are the second most important player in the PDP market as well as being the fourth largest player in the LCD market, but while volumes and figures are important in determining share, it is more important to understand and define your target customer and work out how to appeal to them. You could really lower prices and be the number one market player in terms of volume alone but does that really guarantee that you are a great brand? While we monitor market share, we place a very strong emphasis on how value is created for the customer and how much of a share we have in our target segment. Who have you defined as your target customer? Our target consumers are the premium customers for whom design is the important factor, but without that extra something having design in itself is not going to be sufficient. That ‘Plus-Alpha’ factor could derive from technology, it could come from user interface. The one who finds this ‘Plus-Alpha’ factor first is going to be the ultimate winner. What is LGs policy towards technology convergence in TV sets? Just because you can stuff all this technology into one single device, doesn’t necessarily mean that the consumer will want it, so it is critical to find what is really important, what really counts. What is your view of where the Digital Display sector goes from here? It is important to correctly read design trends and great hints come automobile industry design. In this regard the European market is excelling and based on what we have seen so far we think the trend will be largely minimalist design. It is essential that your product blends in with your living environment. For the future we think it is very important to stay user friendly. There will be other trends such as IPTV, EPGs & the whole network, but it is not enough to just imagine them, it is important to put these concepts and ideas through the ultimate consumer test. IFA International • Saturday, 1 st September 2007 13

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