TOKYO--Sony Corp. and Panasonic Corp., Japan's biggest makers of TVs, agreed to jointly develop sets using OLED displays as they try to rebound from a combined 1.2 trillion yen or US$15 billion in losses last year.
The companies aim to establish mass-production technology for organic light-emitting diode panels next year, they said in a statement today. They didn't set target dates for introducing OLED sets.
The partnership is the first between the main TV operations at the two companies, which are losing money as the strengthened yen erodes overseas earnings and as competition from South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. intensifies. The two Korean companies have said they will introduce OLED models by December 31.
OLED televisions are as thin as 4 millimeters or 0.16 inches and produce sharper images than current liquid-crystal-display models. Shipments of OLED TVs may grow to 2.1 million sets in 2015 from 34,000 in 2012, according to Englewood, Colorado-based IHS Inc.'s iSuppli.
Using organically glowing materials, OLED TVs don't require separate backlights and can be half the thickness of Apple's iPad 2, which measures 8.8 millimeters. The technology, already used in mobile devices including Sony's PlayStation Vita players and Samsung's Galaxy smartphones, uses less power than LCDs and has a higher contrast rate, creating more vivid images.
Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung and Seoul-based LG showed 55-inch or 140-centimeter OLED sets at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.
Sony, which introduced the first OLED TV with an 11-inch screen in 2007, is studying the demand for larger sets and the investment that would be needed to make them, Sony President Kazuo Hirai said in a February interview. "OLED sets will not represent the bulk of TV sales next year, the year after or even the year after that," Hirai said before becoming president in April.
Panasonic President Fumio Ohtsubo said in January that Panasonic wants to introduce OLED sets not long after Samsung and LG.
Sony's TV unit will probably lose about 80 billion yen this fiscal year as it predicted sales will decline 11% to 17.5 million units, the company said in May. Hirai plans to make the business profitable in the year ending March 2014, ending nine straight years of losses.
Panasonic will probably stop losing money from TVs in the quarter starting January 1, Chief Financial Officer Makoto Uenoyama said in May.(Bloomberg/T03/aph)