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商业 - 科技

OLED屏能否助三星挽回颓势?

Kevin Purdy 2014年11月18日

由于旗下多款智能手机和平板电脑使用OLED显示屏,韩国三星集团无疑是这种技术的霸主。但问题来了,OLED超艳丽的色彩对三星设备的销路究竟有益还是有害?

    当韩国三星集团(Samsung)推出一款针对智能手机和平板电脑的全新屏幕时,许多批评人士都觉得这款屏幕有些发红。

    也许用“发红”来形容并不确切——其实它更接近一种饱和得有些不真实的亮红色。

    三星是OLED领域几乎无可争辩的王者。OLED的全称是有机发光二极管。近年来,随着三星在高端和低端手机市场受到了越来越大的挑战,该公司开始利用自己在OLED市场的霸权稳固。在利润较低的低端市场上,愿意牺牲利润换取市场份额的当地厂商,比如小米(Xiaomi),着实给三星造成了不小的冲击;而在利润相对较高的高端市场上,以苹果(Apple)iPhone为代表的竞争对手又给三星带来了极大的压力。每家企业都希望自家的设备销量好,问题是大家的产品大同小异,是什么刺激消费者买这一款,不买那一款呢?

    三星希望它的显示技术能够成为刺激购买欲望的因素之一,因为它的竞争对手们使用的都是不那么鲜艳,但更受信赖的屏幕技术。

    苹果的iPhone、iPad以及大约三分之二的其他智能手机均使用LCD屏幕,即液晶显示屏。LCD显示屏通过扭转液晶来使一定量的光线穿过每个红、绿或蓝像素。这一技术很知名,也很成熟,但它也有一个比较大的缺点:液晶自己是不发光的,液晶背后的发光板会显著影响电池寿命。另外算上液晶屏本身和其它必要技术配件的厚度,LCD屏通常要更厚、更硬一些。

    目前三星的大多数设备采用的是AMOLED屏幕(又叫主动矩阵有机发光二极管)。这种技术使电流通过一些有机材料薄膜(红绿蓝色)来发出有色光。由于AMOLED显示屏自身可以发光,它不需要背光板。更妙的是,当不需要某些像素发光时,它们会被“关闭”掉,从而节省电力,而且AMOLED显示屏上的黑色也要比LCD显示屏更深、更纯。随着工艺和材料的进步,如今的AMOLED显示屏已经造得比以往更薄、像素密度极高,有的甚至还能弯曲,而且它的色域也非常广。

    最重要的是,这些工艺进步很大程度上来自同一个制造商,即三星电子集团旗下的三星显示公司(Samsung Display)。IHS公司高级总监维尼塔•贾克汉瓦表示:“可能还有其他几家公司涉及这项技术领域,但这些显示屏实际上都来自三星,除此以外,市场上再没有其他厂家为手机或平板电脑生产OLED或AMOLED显示屏了。”

    三星当然乐于谈谈它的显示技术。在今年夏天发布的一段Galaxy Tab S平板电脑推广视频中,一位女士在网上购买了沙拉碗、裙子和高跟鞋,等快递到了,却发现实物的颜色跟网站上的图片颜色偏差很大,不由得唉声叹气。这时旁白说道,三星Galaxy Tab S平板电脑可以展示“专业的RGB标准”,每个像素“都是一个活的像素,能够创造一系列色彩组合。”潜台词就是说,三星的屏幕是有机的,是不一样的,在色彩显示上做得更好。

    When critics of Samsung see the Korean technology mega-corporation turn out yet another huge, impressively sharp screen for a new phone or tablet computer, it makes them see red.

    Well, not red, actually—more like a super-saturated, unrealistically bright version of red.

    Samsung is the near-undisputed king of OLED, or organic light-emitting diode, display technology. It has been using its dominant position in that market as a source of stability as it enters an increasingly untenable situation: eroding sales on both ends of the phone price spectrum. On the low end where profit margins are thin, Samsung has been under attack by local manufacturers such as Xiaomi, which have been willing to sacrifice profit for the sake of market share. On the high end where margins are better, rivals such as Apple’s iPhone have proved to be fiercely competitive. Every company in the business hopes that large sales volumes will make their big bets pay off in the end; the question is what will prompt consumers to buy one glassy device over another.

    Samsung hopes that display technology will be one of those things as its rivals use less flashy but more trusted screen technology.

    Apple’s iPhones and iPads and roughly two-thirds of all smartphones have LCD, or liquid-crystal display, screens. LCDs essentially twist and untwist liquid crystals to allow a certain amount of light through each red, green, or blue sub-pixel, the term for the components that make up each individual pixel in a display. The technology is well-known and well-worn, but it comes with a major downside: liquid crystals provide no light of their own. The necessary backlight that accompanies such displays is a substantial draw on battery life; taken together with the crystals and other necessary technology, such displays make the resulting screen thicker and more rigid.

    Most of Samsung’s modern devices have AMOLED (as in “active-matrix organic light-emitting diode”) displays. The technology involves passing a current through tiny, thin films of organic material (red, green, or blue), which cause them to throw off colored light. AMOLED screens generate their own light, so they do not need a backlight. Even better, when the pixels are not needed, they are actually “off,” saving device power and allowing blacks to be deeper and truer than with LCDs. Manufacturing and material improvements have made AMOLED displays thinner, extremely pixel-dense, occasionally curved, and able to display a huge range of colors.

    Most importantly, these manufacturing improvements come largely from one single maker: Samsung Display, a division of Samsung Electronics. “There may be a couple of other players, technically, but, really, these displays come from Samsung,” says Vinita Jakhanwal, senior director of analyst firm IHS. “There is no other OLED or AMOLED maker making displays for mobile phones or tablets.”

    Samsung certainly wants to talk about its display technology. In a video promotion for its Galaxy Tab S tablet this summer, women purchase salad bowls, dresses, and shoes online, only to sigh in deep exasperation when a different shade of blue-green, yellow, or shale comes out of the box. The Galaxy Tab S, the voice-over claims, displays the “professional RGB standard” and each pixel is a “living pixel, capable of producing a variety of color combinations.” The message: Samsung’s screens are organic, different, and simply better at colors.

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