After the heartbreak of losing Pioneer's excellent Kuro line, Panasonic's plasma displays were the last bastion of hope for plasma TV enthusiasts, but now even they are going extinct. Panasonic today confirmed a Reuters report from earlier this month that it is exiting the plasma TV market with almost immediate effect — production of new units will end in December and all related operations will be wrapped by March next year. Two of Panasonic's three factories have already stopped building new units and the third will join them in about a month's time. The Verge reported this past April that the company had ceased all future plasma display development.
Panasonic made a strong effort to push its plasma TVs this year — coming to CES in January with a fully refreshed home theater lineup — however the economics of plasma display production just haven't worked out for the company. Though consumer demand is apparently still firm, Panasonic says that "due to rapid, drastic changes in the business environment" and price pressure from more affordable LCD TVs, the unhappy decision had to be made. That leaves HD enthusiasts with a few months to save up the money to buy a ZT60, the last in a proud line of beautiful TVs.
As for the future, a Panasonic Display vice president told The Verge in April that plasma research and development efforts would likely be diverted to OLED. The company sees televisions using the technology as "one of the key future products," and it is working to insure that it can make affordable OLED TVs that still leave room for profit before putting any up for sale. If and when that day comes, sticklers for the picture quality offered by plasmas should be more than happy with OLEDs.