Few people know as much about the television business in Spain as Nacho Monge, I would dare say. Nacho has been, since 2021, the Division Head of the Consumer Electronics part of Samsung and, prior to this, he had been linked to the television department of the Korean company in Spain since 2011.
He is also a regular on TechGIndia: we spoke with him in 2017, in 2018, in 2020 and in 2022. A rereading of all these interviews not only shows us the evolution and changes in Samsung televisions over the years. years, but in the trends of the sector in Spain. But let’s start with the first thing: evolution and changes.
This is how Samsung makes money: the secret is in the IPHONE
And Samsung’s OLED has arrived… to stay
“What about OLED TVs?” is probably the question that Nacho Monge has had to endure the most times over the years. His answer was always the same: they considered that the technology was not mature enough and they continued to bet on QLED… until last year.
Last year, in 2022, Samsung presented for the first time its OLED televisions that use the technology they have called QD-OLED. These are organic panels, like OLEDs from other brands, but with another type of technology to reproduce color. Here you have the in-depth technical explanation if you want to go deeper.
“We did not have OLED in televisions because we thought that the technology was not mature. We have brought pure OLED technology, without being white OLED“explains Nacho. They have included their nanocrystal technology to replace the additional white pixel of traditional OLED panels.
In 2022 Samsung debuted with a “high-end” QD-OLED television, which they themselves did not consider premium. And this year they have expanded the references and come with two QD-OLED models: the S95C and the S90C, both available in 55, 65 and 77 inches. Furthermore, both models come with something that is not common in the sector: a second generation of panels in just one year with notable improvements.
Despite having debuted on the market last year, Samsung is as optimistic as it is ambitious: “before we were not in the OLED market and now we have a significant presence and a desire to lead,” explains Nacho. They currently claim to have a 30% share in OLED and lead the 77-inch market. “First milestone, a big milestone,” says Nacho with a smile.
“We are not leaders because we still do not have 48 inches and we need to complete the range. We only have two series,” says Nacho Monge. This could change in the near future: “We still don’t have a small inch, but if we see a future and the consumer demands it from us, it is an issue that we will evaluate in the future.”
“We are not leaders in OLED because we still do not have 48 inches and we need to complete the range”
Although the supply is limited, this does not prevent Nacho Monge from daring to make a quite significant prediction: “I firmly believe that in the next 18 months we will be able to say that Samsung is also a leader in OLED in Spain.” What’s more, QD-OLED is going to be key for Samsung to be more of a leader: “Samsung is going to lead the premium market with more than 55% and part of this is supported by the leadership in large-inch OLED,” announces Nacho.
Samsung does not “marry” any format: it wants to lead them all
If you haven’t studied Samsung’s TV catalog too much, I know what you’re wondering: QD-OLED from Samsung? And what about NeoQLED (MiniLED)? Not to mention MicroLEDs, the eternal promise of an apparently perfect technology but VERY VERY VERY expensive today and with no plans to drop in price considerably in the near future. Three technologies, three bets, one brand.
We just talked in detail about QD-OLED. However, for many years Samsung has been betting on MiniLED technology for its QLED televisions, which they now sell under the name Neo QLED. Here we are talking about 8K and also 4K televisions, from the QN900C to the QN90C.
For Samsung, having the two technologies coexist in the premium range is the strategy to follow and Nacho is clear about it: Neo QLED 8K offers today “the best image quality”, it continues to be its great bet and next year there will still be Neo QLED 8K in the Samsung catalog. “MiniLED is a technology that is here to stay and we should expand it,” he adds.
“We don’t know what technology will finally be established”
Why do these two technologies coexist? “We don’t know what technology will finally be established,” acknowledges Nacho Monge. What they do seem to be 100% sure of is that the traditional LED has an expiration date: “The LED as such is already amortized. We have to develop MiniLED technology,” he says, referring to both Samsung and the industry in general.
And the MicroLED? We have been talking about this technology for years but they are still panels that cost more than 150,000 euros. Will we see them reach the end consumer at some point at an affordable price? “That’s what we’re working on,” explains the Samsung executive. The problem it exposes us to is that it is the “nightmare that bites its tail”: if you lower the price you sell more and create economies of scale, but the cost has not yet fallen. It doesn’t seem like they will have this technology in the short term.
Large televisions (but really big ones) have more and more market
In addition to talking about television formats, Nacho Monge updated me with some figures regarding screen sizes: according to him, Samsung is seeing “spectacular growth in super large inches”, referring to 90 inches and more. “The market is doubling” and that is why last year they only had one model and this year they already have two. It is, yes, realistic: it is a very “niche” market and very small for now, “but we have to go to those niches that the consumer is demanding.”
If any of us goes to a store and sees a 98-inch television, today I think many of us would rule it out, but Nacho explains that this type of TV encourages the purchase of other TVs that are not SO big but still quite large. Yes: you go to the store and 98 inches seems enormous to you, but an 85-inch or 77-inch next to it you already see it as more affordable both in money and size.
But do we really buy such large televisions in Spain? Not yet, but the average size is little by little growing: the typical television until last year was 55 inches, explains Monge, while today 65 inches is getting closer and it seems that in a couple of years it could be established as a standard size, according to the figures they handle.
It is not a good year for the general television market, but the “green shoots” arrive
When I ask Nacho to take stock of the year, the executive begins by talking about the general trend of the market and how it has not been very positive. “On a general level, the television market is suffering. Accumulated until September, it has accumulated drops of 10%,” he explains, although he also points out that they see “certain green shoots” and hope to “see good numbers from November/December.” . By the end of the year, he estimates that the overall decline in the sector will be 7%.
Why this fall? Nacho is clear: “Every time there is a crisis, less money is available, durable goods are the ones that take the longest to replace.” It also highlights that this drop is seen more in entry-level televisions, because in the premium segment (more than 1,500 dollars, 1,370 euros at the exchange rate) the trend is positive and we are talking about a growth between 10% and 15% . “We see a polarization of the market: the most premium market is growing, compared to the less premium market that is decreasing,” he says.
2023 is being a weak year for the TV market in general, but it is beginning to recover
In 2020, in the middle of the pandemic and with a considerable shortage of stock in TVs, another executive in the sector explained to me that in the short term selling so much was very good, but that this was “advance demand”: people renewed televisions ahead of time during the confinement, and this means that in the following years they expected to sell less than usual. This is also, according to Nacho, the reason why the sector is experiencing such a complicated year.
From Samsung, yes, they see with hope and a drop of realism what is to come in 2024: “2024 will surely be somewhat better than 2023 but somewhat inferior to 2022,” says Monge. This is due to the Euro Cup and the Olympic Games. Do major sporting events still represent a big boost in TV sales? “There is always an increase in the market,” she says, and that is what she is preparing for.
What will the leading TVs be like in five years?
If you have read any of my interviews, you will know that I like to end them by looking to the future, asking the interviewee to tell me what they think we will be talking about in five years. I asked Nacho Monge this same question in 2018 and he told me, very correctly, that he believed that AI would have a leading role on TV in 2023. He was right. He also said that there would be a great role for the IoT and the Smart Things ecosystem, although in that part he recognizes that today “there is great room for improvement.”
Artificial intelligence continues and will continue to be key and not only for them but for the entire industry. In the words of Nacho: “AI plays a very important factor in how you take content, it scales it and gives you the highest quality, but not only on that source: we are already working on having the television analyze the environment of your home and adapt the content”.
And what will the television of 2028 be like? Nacho Monge believes that we will be talking about “hyperconnected” televisions larger than 85 inches, which are not simply mere players of “the washing machine has finished” notices.
What he does not dare to comment on is the type of technology that will end up being established. Samsung, out of caution and strategy, seems better positioned than the rest of the brands to compete wherever it needs to. Nacho Monge sums it up in one sentence: “I don’t see right now that there is a single premium technology. I see that there are many technological possibilities and we shouldn’t close ourselves to any of them.” And if that means developing three at once, so be it.