Note: I wrote this entry earlier this week, and the situation has undoubtedly developed further since I put this together. So while the details may need to be updated, the issues remain the same.
You may be expecting some insightfull commentary about Black Friday deals on HDTVs, but I’m leaving that for others to cover. Instead, I want to discuss some other current events that may or may not be on your radar as you consider HDTV issues.
Earlier this week, North Korea shelled a South Korean island, killing civilians and South Korean military personnel. South Korea returned the fire. This exchange came hard on the heels of revelations about what may be a North Korean facility that is capable of producing weapons-grade nuclear materials. It appears that the conflict between the two halves of this divided nation is heating up once again, with potentially drastic results. The North Korean military is reportedly large and well-equipped, and a full scale attack on South Korea would undoubtedly be a major battle.
The fact is that it’s difficult to set world politics aside when discussing topics such as home entertainment equipment. The Number 1 and 2 producers of large format LCD panels for HDTVs are LG Electronics and Samsung; both are South Korean companies. The other leading producers are based in Taiwan, which until recently has had its own conflicts with a “mainland China” that still claims sovereignty over the island. The fact is that a major political or military conflict in either place could create a profound disruption in the HDTV market. Supplies could be severely curtailed, along with much of the research and development that drives the advances in display technology. And since a new LCD manufacturing plant costs billions of dollars and many years to build, lost of manufacturing capacity is not easy to replace.
Maybe it’s wrong somehow to be concerned about something as trivial as home television sets when considering warfare between nations, but the fact is that everything is connected in this global economy, and it is important to keep those connections in mind as we ponder the latest developments in current events.