Consumer Electronics Giant Panasonic Exiting Plasma TV Market
November 7, 2013

Consumer Electronics Giant Panasonic Exiting Plasma TV Market

Peter Suciu for - Your Universe Online

Consumer electronics giant Panasonic has announced that it will exit the plasma TV business by March 2014. This comes as the TV market declined in 2013 in both developed and emerging regions.

Shipments of flat panel TVs, including plasma and LCD, fell by five percent, and this is the second consecutive year to see a decline, according to industry research firm IHS.

The western European and Japanese TV markets have been in decline since 2010, while North America has been shrinking since early 2011.

“A wide range of factors are conspiring to undermine television shipments in 2013, from economic weakness and market saturation of flat-panel TVs in mature regions, to plunging CRT sales in developing countries,” said Jusy Hong, senior analyst for consumer electronics & technology at IHS, in a statement. “This is all adding up to a second consecutive year of decline for the television market.”

In addition, a number of competing display technologies, most notably OLED, have been introduced that have put plasma display’s future in doubt.

As a result, Panasonic announced that “the company will end the production of plasma display panels (PDP) in December 2013” at two factories and end all production “by the end of March 2014.”

The news was met by a wave of shock in the consumer electronics world, with many reviewers, industry insiders and pundits sharing their dismay. TV reviewer David Katzmaier of Cnet compiled industry reactions.

“Panasonic's announcement will be the death knell for plasma altogether. LG and Samsung will probably cease plasma production as well in the next few years, in favor of putting resources into the further development of OLED,” posted Kevin Miller, professional TV calibrator and founder of TweakTV. “It saddens me because once again the superior product category is eclipsed by an inferior technology (LED LCD), which is reminiscent of the Betamax vs. VHS story. My hope is that TV manufacturers will quickly ramp up production of larger OLED screen sizes, and reduce the current stratospheric pricing, so that an even better display technology emerges soon after the demise of plasma. “

Competing technology, including the aforementioned OLED, was unveiled at CES earlier this year. More recently, Samsung and LG have both introduced the first OLED displays in retail.

Despite this, the price of OLED will likely remain out of reach for many consumers and with plasma being tuned out it will leave fewer options at retail.

“This is a damn shame,” said Colin Dixon, founder and principle analyst at nScreenMedia. “While there is no question that LCD is the dominating technology plasma really does provide a great picture.”

“One of the problems with LCD is the black levels,” Dixon told redOrbit. “When it comes to blurring, color levels and notably black levels these are all improved by plasma. However, the organic technology is actually much, much better, so maybe that is what is at the core of this.”

The decline in sales worldwide also meant one technology likely had to go.

“I’m shocked to be honest,” added Dixon. “But I guess it is really tough to make money in this business. The costs have likely remained the same while the prices have fallen. In that case the profitability is gone, and it is not possible to make money in plasma, even if it was the industry standard.”