What’s with all the TV launches in Milan? Cord cutters, plummeting sales and Instagram

Milan – Samsung, one of the world’s largest electronic manufacturers and thus a proper barometer for the sector, – 2018 was one of the division’s worst years on record.

So, if the industry is , what’s with all the OLED TV launches in Milan this year? Simply put: by repackaging a primary household item as a 20,000-euro design object, manufacturers such as , and are trying to skip the category altogether.

This trend started with cord cutters, a growing cluster of millennials who eschewed cable in favour of on laptop and mobile screens. That meant that the mass exodus of would-be TV viewers impacted not only , but also TV set manufacturers.

But it’s also, as usual, Instagram’s fault. As the homebody generation turned the home into an aspirational space – staying home instead of going out does not carry the social stigma it did with Gen X-ers – the desire to live inside a became incompatible with the intrusive black flat screen. In the era of Airspace and the cultural cachet that came with not owning a television, its decline was not a surprise.

So, the Beovision screen that starts up by opening its wings like a butterfly, or the one that turns into an invisible Vitra vitrine or Foster + Partners’ rolling marvel? Those are not television sets – they’re sculptures. And that’s not a negative thing at all: by reframing and reforming an iconic category, they might actually be saving it altogether.

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