Samsung Invests $750 Million More in Plasma HD

Samsung (opens in new tab) this week said it plans to spend more than $750 million to build a huge HD plasma display panel plant (the firm's fourth PDP assembly line) on a 99,000 square-meter (118,800 square-yard) site in Ulsan, South Korea. The plant will have a yearly manufacturing capability of up to 3 million plasma units of all sizes. The new shop likely will be in place by spring 2007, according to published reports.

Samsung, already a major global producer of plasma sets, said the newest plant will bring the company's annual PDP production capacity to more than 7.3 million units. Many of the units likely will be 1080p sets of 42- and 50-inches. Apparently plans for the new plant are being accelerated slightly because of what Samsung said has been a noticeably increased demand for the plasma flatscreens in North America.

Samsung said that 50-inch plasma screens are now capturing nearly a third of all plasma units sold in the U.S., up from a quarter of sets sold only a few months ago. Competitors like Matsushita (Panasonic brand) also have recently committed hundreds of millions of dollars to build new PDP plants throughout Asia. Market analyst DisplaySearch forecasts PDP demand worldwide will more than double from 2006 to 2008, with sales of 22.8 million sets.

Exactly how Samsung's plans for the new Ulsan plant relate to this week's news about its new HD color laser technology (see lead story, this edition) is yet to be seen.