Sony, Panasonic to cooperate on OLED televisions
TOKYO, June 25 – Rival Japanese television makers Sony Corp and Panasonic Corp said today they will cooperate to make OLED (organic light emitting diode) sets as they battle Korean rivals Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics for pole position in the next-generation TV market.
The race to garner a lead in OLED, widely touted as the successor to liquid-crystal displays, will depend on which company is able to mass produce screens at a price that will attract consumers to the new technology.
Sony and Panasonic said in a statement they will develop technologies to fabricate the screens and aim to establish a mass-production process in 2013.
Both Samsung and LG Electronics have displayed 55-inch OLED prototypes, with the sets expected to go on sale this year at a rumoured price tag of as much as US$10,000 (RM31,978), or about four times the cost of an equivalent LCD model.
An executive at LG Display, a flat-screen maker 38 per cent owned by LG Electronics, said earlier an internal study indicated consumers would start buying OLED TVs once the price falls to 1.3 to 1.4 times that of an LCD set.
Shipments of OLED TVs may reach 2.1 million sets in 2015 from just 34,000 this year, according to research firm IHS Inc.
Hammered by their Korean competitors in LCD TVs, Sony and Panasonic stand a better chance of competing in the next generation market by combining their OLED technologies and development budgets. Losses on TVs at Sony have mounted to around US$12 billion in the past decade.
Sony pioneered OLED technology, which boast sharper images and do not need backlighting, selling the world’s first OLED TV in 2007. It halted production of the US$2,000 screens three years later amid the post-Lehman global downturn. Sony still makes OLED screens costing as much as US$26,000 for high-end customers.
Panasonic plans to invest about US$373 million in its Himeji plant in western Japan for a test production line of OLED panels, an industry source said last month.
Shares in Sony, which makes Bravia TVs, and Panasonic, which sells TVs under the Viera brand, fell in Tokyo today. Sony dipped 2.4 per cent with Panasonic down 0.6 per cent. – Reuters