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Panasonic joins with Sony to make large OLED TV sets

Consumer TV set makers Panasonic and Sony have signed an agreement to jointly develop the next-generation of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels and modules for TV sets and larger-sized outdoor displays.

The companies said they plan to jointly develop next-generation OLED panels and modules by each utilizing their core and printing technologies. They aim for low-cost mass production of large, high-resolution OLED panels and modules during 2013.

Sony introduced the world’s first OLED TV in 2007 with an 11-inch model. Sony also released a 25-inch professional OLED monitor in 2011, and continues to develop products and mass-produce OLED displays for both the consumer and professional production industries.

Sony has also actively promoted the research and development of the next generation of OLED technologies. This includes hybrid OLED element devices and highly efficient manufacturing technologies that combine deposition and printing methods, thin film transistor (TFT) drivers such as oxide TFTs and flexible organic TFTs. Mostly it has presented its development results at academic conferences.

Panasonic has specialized in large-sized screen, high-resolution OLED panels that utilizes an all printing method. This allows the making of OLED screens at lower cost. The company owns the printing production and equipment technologies that enable the production of OLED panels.

Panasonic is also carrying out research and development of advancements in flexible OLED panels and aiming to develop large-sized, high quality sheet-type displays.

In parallel with the joint development of the next-generation technologies of the OLED panels and modules, Sony and Panasonic plan to continue to study collaboration in the mass production of OLED panels and modules.

Both companies will try to remain competitive in the television set market even with the cooperative manufacturing. Both have taken serious economic hits due to the highly competitive manufacturing of LCD sets in recent years. They also must catch up with competitors Samsung and LG, who already have a head start in low-cost TV manufacturing.

Of course, they must lower the cost of OLED television sets, which now exceed $10,000, before they can attract a mass market for the devices. Samsung has already announced a new 55-inch OLED set (which was shown at CES in January) for $9,000. LG will begin shipping a 55-inch OLED TV, the 55EM9600, for $10,000 later this year.