Tech rivals Panasonic and Sony have agreed to work together to produce the next generation of television sets. They believe the collaboration will help make OLED panels affordable more quickly, revitalizing the TV market.
Only last week, figures for the first three months of 2012 showed that not only have overall global TV sales dropped, but sales of LCD screens have fallen for the first time. That was blamed partly on economic issues, but also on the idea that virtually everyone who is going to switch to a flatscreen television or upgrade to high definition has already done so, and that 3D sets aren’t driving people to buy a new television before their old one breaks down.
An OLED (organic light-emitting diode) television is — to put it very crudely — a more sophisticated version of the technology used for the red light that shows you’ve pressed a button on a remote control. When it comes to televisions, the key is that it doesn’t require any backlighting. This allows for a darker black and in turn improved contrast. It also means the screen can be even thinner and lighter, which could also make even larger screens more viable.
To date Sony has concentrated on OLEDs for consumer use, having launched the first OLED TV set, but has gone no larger than 25 inches. Meanwhile Panasonic has put its efforts into expensive, large OLED screens used mainly for commercial purposes. It has the rights to a technology that allows such screens to be produced in bulk at a cheaper price.
The two companies have both suffered heavy losses in recent years through a combination of dropping sales and unfavorable movements on the currency exchanges, prompting the new partnership.
The plan is to adapt Panasonic’s production techniques to develop sets at a price and size suitable for consumers. The deal is merely a sharing of technologies and their won’t be any jointly branded sets on offer.