Panasonic could be preparing an exit from the plasma TV market. According to Nikkei, the troubled company is mulling plans to greatly reduce its TV production over the next three years, possibly getting out of plasma altogether as early as 2014. Instead, it company reportedly plans to push into more profitable businesses like airplane systems, automotive parts, and enterprise products. Despite its shrinking market share relative to LCD, plasma is frequently championed by home theater enthusiasts for its deep blacks, wide viewing angles, vivid colors, and lack of motion blur.
Nikkei says that Panasonic has already stopped investing in new plasma development
TV sales peaked for Panasonic in 2009, the same year it acquired Pioneer’s Kuro plasma TV technology. That year, TV revenues hit a trillion yen, or about $11.5 billion, but that figure is projected to fall to nearly half by 2015. The TV division also hasn't turned a profit in the past five quarters. But according to an unnamed executive, it’s important for Panasonic to protect its relationships with customers, so it’s planning to wind down plasma gradually over the next year rather than stop production immediately. It looks like the retreat has been planned for some time, as Nikkei says that the company has already stopped investing in new plasma development. Its plans to produce OLED TV panels with Sony are still going ahead, however.
According to a statement from Panasonic, the company is "considering several different strategies," but has not made any actual decisions. Nikkei reports that the plans will be unveiled in the company’s medium-term management plan, to be released on March 28th.