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Samsung’s advanced TVs go missing on the way to IFA 2012

It may sound amusing to you, but apparently two advanced OLED television sets from Samsung Electronics have gone missing! Yep, the television sets were on their way to the IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin when this incident took place.

According to the company spokesman, the organic-light-emitting diodes (OLED) TVs went missing between August 21 and 28, though the incident didn’t threaten company’s presence at the fair as it had more such TVs at its booth.

An official complaint has been lodged with local police, a spokesman confirmed, but he added that they didn’t exactly know where the TVs went missing. The South Korean technology giant declined to say anything more on the incident. The disappearance could be an industrial espionage.

“OLED is a technology that puts Samsung two years ahead of its competitors,” said Thomas Kang, a Seoul-based information technology analyst over the phone. “If indeed the televisions were stolen by a late comer in the television industry, it could potentially narrow the technological gap between it and Samsung by a year.”

OLED based displays are said to be the successors of liquid crystal display (LCDs). OLED based displays are already used in mobile phones, including Samsung’s Galaxy Note. They are lighter, thinner and tougher, making them an attractive option over LCD. As of now, only Samsung and LG Electronics have the ability to mass produce these displays due to various technological challenges. Japanese manufacturers are trailing behind these South Korean companies. Currently, Samsung and LG are the only two companies which have the ability to mass produce these next generation TVs. It’s worth noting that Samsung is the world’s largest television manufacturer.

It is not the first time that such an incident has occurred. According to Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office, back in June this year, Chinese and Israeli companies got their hands on key display panel production technologies which were apparently leaked by subcontractors. Six employees of Orbotech were charged for clicking photos of Samsung and LG’s circuit diagrams for AMOLED (active matrix organic light emitting diode) screens without any authorization and sending them to companies located in China and Israel. The Korean companies have seemingly spent over 1 trillion won for this technology. According to the media reports, if the theft was indeed aimed at stealing the advanced TV technology, it could cost the company billions of dollars.

“We have asked for help from the German as well as Korean police,” said a Samsung spokesman.

The televisions in question are the ES-9500 model. The ES-9500 is a 55-inch OLED HDTV which was showcased back in May, but hasn’t been launched yet. Apparently, the company sent about 400 televisions to the trade show. The two Korean manufacturers are looking to mass produce these TVs because the technology is just better, but in its current shape, the TVs will be too expensive to be sold in the market. The price tag of the 55 inch television based on this technology from Samsung and LG are rumored to be $10,000, which is more than 10 times a normal LCD TV’s cost.