Last night as I tucked myself into bed with a bottle of beer, I fired off a late-night email to my contact at Samsung asking if he could share any details with me ahead of the event the company was holding the following day. Even though I knew I wouldn’t be allowed to print any information until after the event had started, I like to be prepared. Can’t hurt to ask, right? I crashed.
The next morning, after discovering the previous occupant of my hotel room had filled the coffee maker’s water reservoir with chocolate-flavored creamer (who does that?), I abandoned the joint, grabbed a cup of coffee at a corner coffee shop, burned my face, and joined my coworker Jeff at the event location.
As we waited outside, I checked my phone to discover my contact had kindly obliged, sending me the details on pretty much everything that was to be discussed moments later at the gloriously ostentatious Museum of American Finance on Wall Street. I began scrolling through the document on my iPhone: Kate Upton, Eli Manning, Flo Rida (who?), Smart Evolution Kit, really bright plasma…yadda, yadda yadda. I was about to doze off in line when, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a figure that had me bolt upright: $39,999!?!
I started asking nearby press buddies, “Hey…did you see Samsung priced its Ultra HDTV at $40,000?” The looks and remarks I got were that of disbelief. Not the “you’ve got to be kidding me” kind of disbelief, but the “dude, you must be mistaken because that’s ridiculous…you should know better” kind.
I took a closer look, thinking maybe I had misread something. Nope. That’s what it said. I decided it had to be a typo. I needed it to be a typo, otherwise I was going to have to ask some uncomfortable questions. After all, Samsung wouldn’t do something so absurd, right? That’s like $15,000 more than Sony’s 84-inch Ultra HDTV and $20,000 more than LG’s 84LM9600. It just doesn’t add up.
About an hour later, after witnessing the excruciatingly uncomfortable spectacle of the impossibly gorgeous Kate Upton trying to deliver lines from a teleprompter as if she wasn’t delivering lines from a teleprompter – yet hearing nothing about the price of Samsung’s 85-inch Ultra HDTV – I wandered over to the little vignette where Samsung had staged the behomoth, snagged one of Samsung’s reps, and asked him point-blank,”Is this TV priced at $40,000?”
“Yes,” he responded.
When I pressed for reasons why (in the nicest possible way, mind you) I was directed toward the premium guts behind the panel (that would be a full array of locally dimmed LED backlighting) and the better build quality. That accounts for another $1,000 or maybe $2,000 in my book. So where’s the other $12,000 going? Do you get a Kia Rio with this thing?
The set will be available for pre-order later this month. Samsung plans an initial run of 77 units, with more to follow depending on demand. We’ll see how that goes.
Let the rants begin. Frankly, I don’t understand how Samsung can have the balls to charge this much. Yes it is the best-looking Ultra HDTV around in my opinion, yes it is brand new tech, yes there are some crazy people in Dubai who will actually pay that much just to be able to say they did and gloat about it until next year when they will be bigger and cheaper. But this could turn into a momentary PR nightmare. I, like plenty of other journalists, will be engaged in conversations just like this one over why the hell Samsung priced it so high and, because they didn’t have a really good answer for me (by no fault of Samsung’s reps), I will have to shrug my shoulders a bit and say: I don’t know.
Have another look at the 85-inch S9 in our video below and let us know what you think. Is Samsung a little bit crazy, or is it just me?