Sony said on Thursday it planned to start selling ultra-thin TVs using organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology this year, likely becoming the first to market with a TV using the promising next-generation display.
Several companies are investing in OLED technology because it can produce bright, colorful images and does not require a backlight as do liquid crystal displays (LCD), allowing for a thinner panel. OLED panels are also said to be energy-efficient and good at reproducing fast-moving images.
OLED displays are already used in digital cameras, cellphones and other devices with relatively small panels. But cost and technology hurdles have so far prevented them from being mass produced for use in larger equipment such as TVs.
The new 11-inch OLED TV to be launched this year will be made by ST Liquid Crystal Display Corp., a joint venture between Sony and Toyota Industries, Sony spokesman Daiichi Yamafuji said, declining to give unit targets or a likely price.
Sony has invested aggressively in LCD technology and is now the world’s largest player in the LCD TV market. It makes big LCD panels in a joint venture with South Korea’s Samsung Electronics.
“It won’t be easy for OLED TVs to replace LCD TVs, but we would like to turn OLED TVs into a big new business,” Sony Executive Deputy President Katsumi Ihara said in a speech at a display forum in Tokyo.
The Nikkei business daily reported earlier that Sony would begin by mass producing about 1,000 of the 11-inch OLED sets per month, and would aim to keep the TVs priced at within a few times of existing flat TVs.
That would be just a fraction of its LCD TV business.
Ihara said Sony slightly exceeded its target of selling 6 million LCD TVs in the business year ended last month, and reiterated a target to sell 10 million units this year.
Other companies investing in OLED displays include Seiko Epson, Canon, Samsung, and a joint venture between Toshiba and Matsushita Electric Industrial.
The venture, Toshiba Matsushita Display Technology Co., announced on Wednesday it aimed to launch TV-use OLED panels in three years, taking aim at the $35 billion flat TV market, which is currently dominated by LCD and plasma display technology.
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