More pixels and lower prices trump the blackest blacks for Sony, which is reportedly suspending its efforts to make OLED television sets. Instead, reports Japan's Nikkei, the company is shifting its focus to 4K sets that use more traditional liquid crystal displays. Those sets are markedly less expensive to produce, sell at lower prices, and already make up nearly half of the sets Sony plans to offer over the course of the next year.
Nikkei adds that the simpler reason for all this is that 4K sets are already selling well, while the more expensive OLED sets are not. Sony has also been outgunned by rivals like LG Electronics and Samsung, which have simply moved faster and more aggressively with their OLED efforts. A report from The Wall Street Journal last December, in fact, noted that Sony and Panasonic had cancelled a partnership on OLED production, and were instead focusing on LCD-based systems, which were simpler to produce.
OLED looks good, but has moved slowly
The primary value of using OLED technology in TV sets and other displays is color reproduction, though the technology has taken years to produce in large sizes and at low costs. Even as the latter part of that equation has caught up, OLED sets are still pricey, and can cost three to four times as much as other technologies like plasma. One of the biggest trends among TV makers at this year's annual Consumer Electronics Show (where most of the new sets are shown off), took the big screen feature another step by curving the displays, something companies say improve ambient light reflections and can improve viewing angles.
The change in strategy is not without costs for Sony. The company plans to trim the workforce on its consumer electronics division by 20 percent, Nikkei says. It also plans to reassign members of its OLED group into other parts of the company.