updated 04:35 pm EDT, Thu April 5, 2012
Samsung OLED tech may be in hands of LG
Samsung's AMOLED display technology might now be in the hands of competitors after reports of a leak. Police were said by South Korea's Yonhap to have arrested 11 people, including a former researcher at Samsung Mobile Display, for leaking out the "small mask scanning" behind taking AMOLED to large TV sets. He reportedly took a kickback equivalent to $168,544 in November from a "local rival" in return for the information.
Supposedly frustrated at having been denied an executive position in return, he may have tried to share that information with a Chinese company. The roles of the other 10 arrested suspects weren't clear, although some are still active Samsung Mobile Display employees.
Given the relative lack of competitors among Korean TV builders, the most probable destination for the information would be LG. It and Samsung have competed fiercely for years, and at CES this year there were 55-inch regular OLED sets both from LG and from Samsung. Other competitors are relatively small and are often making TVs on behalf of other brands.
Neither Samsung nor other companies have commented on the arrests in English language media. The leak could be dangerous for Samsung, however, as a major competitive advantage is now likely lost. AMOLED has yet to make it to TVs in earnest and should provide improvements in visibility, color, and responsiveness to multiple companies, not just Samsung.