Panasonic & Sony to Collaborate on OLED TVs

In a surprising move, Japanese competitors Panasonic and Sony announced in a press release today that they have signed an agreement to collaborate on the development of OLED (organic light-emitting diode) panels for TVs and other large-size displays. The companies intend to establish mass-production technology during 2013 by integrating their individual strengths to improve the efficiency of development.

This announcement is likely a response to the impending release of a 55-inch OLED TV by LG (seen above at its introduction during the Cannes Film Festival with LG Europe's Stanley Cho, film director Jean-Jacques Annaud, and model Gemma Sanderson), which is now slated for the fourth quarter of this year with a list price of around $10,000 in the US. Samsung also unveiled a 55-inch OLED TV at CES last January, but no release date or pricing have yet been announced. Clearly, the Japanese manufacturers don't want to trail far behind the Koreans in the race to create the next generation of flat-panel TVs.

As you may recall, Sony introduced the world's first OLED TV in 2007, but at $2500 for an 11-inch screen, it didn't take the market by storm. The company's 25-inch professional OLED monitor, introduced last year, comes closer to a practical TV, but its $26,000 price tag is anything but practical for most consumers.

Sony's expertise includes deposition techniques and hybrid technologies that combine deposition and printing, thin-film transistor (TFT) drivers, and flexible organic TFTs. Panasonic will contribute its proprietary printing technology and equipment that lowers the cost of producing large-size OLED panels.

In addition to collaborating on the development and mass production of OLED panels, each company also plans to commercialize its own competitive OLED TVs. Now, there's an interesting idea—simultaneous collaboration and competition. Next year should be very interesting for those of us who are eagerly awaiting OLED TVs to hit the market!

mishuk3's picture

I remember a couple of years ago that there was an exact kind of partnership between Sony and Samsung (then at the time, the two market leaders in LCD business) which probably lasted for a few years and then, they pulled the plug on it. So, I wonder, whether history is going to repeat itself or this time, will they be able to pull it off because, this time, both the corporations, even though they are rivals, hail from the same country and it is more about sustaining the Japanese hertigae regarding them being the pioneers of the consumer electronics industry?

Stosh's picture

mishuk3, I would speculate that the two companies will collaborate on the core technology, and once it gets to a point where OLED TVs can be made inexpensively, they will dissolve the partnership and go their own ways and compete with each other more directly. Again, that is pure speculation on my part, but would seem to be a possibly logical way for this to go.

mishuk3's picture

I agree with you, then again, what is the point of such partnership where both the companies will invest millions of dollars in R&D and then invest a couple more in logistics and then all of a sudden, they "divorce" each other because they come self sufficent? Isn't that retrogade way of thinking?

zaner21's picture

My guess is they will all be the same hardware. The main difference will be the GUI and brand name on the bezel. The competition will be with ergonomics, usability and brand loyalty.