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TV business stumbles: Sony, Panasonic and Sharp struggle to stay afloat

As the market for HDTVs becomes saturated, the TV industry is experiencing extreme upheaval: new gimmicks like 3D and Smart TVs haven't been enough to revive stagnating sales, and major players like Sony and Panasonic are drastically restructuring.

  • Oct 31, 2013

    Vlad Savov

    Panasonic concedes plasma TV defeat, ends production

    Panasonic ZT60 Press plasma
    Panasonic ZT60 Press plasma

    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.

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  • Matt Brian

    May 14, 2013

    Matt Brian

    Sharp posts biggest ever annual loss amid another executive reshuffle

    Sharp (STOCK)
    Sharp (STOCK)

    Sharp's journey to profitability has taken another hit after it recorded the biggest annual net loss in its 100-year history. As losses totalled ¥545 billion ($5.37 billion) in the year ending March 31, the company also promoted former executive vice president of products Kozo Takahashi to president. Takahashi replaces Takashi Okuda after just a year in charge, with Okuda becoming chairman following approval by shareholders.

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  • Adi Robertson

    May 13, 2013

    Adi Robertson

    Sharp plans even more loans, hopes for bigger Samsung sales to save its business

    Sharp (STOCK)
    Sharp (STOCK)

    Struggling TV and display maker Sharp will be borrowing money and cutting its workforce to attempt a financial turnaround, Reuters reports. In a business plan and financial statement set for release on Tuesday, Sharp will apparently reveal plans to obtain more loans on top of the 360 billion yen ($3.5 billion) it borrowed last year, taking out another 150 billion yen ($1.5 billion) in return for giving the lenders senior management positions, among other conditions. In its last round of loans, it agreed to lay off 10,000 employees and sell off overseas assets, including plants in China, Malaysia, and Mexico.

    Sharp has been in bad financial shape for years, and it's expected to post a 500 billion yen ($5 billion) loss for the past year, even worse than initially forecast. Over the next three years, it hopes to return to profitability with the help of Samsung, which promised it 10.4 billion yen ($10.5 million) in funding to help improve its display production. In exchange, Samsung was given access to Sharp's LCD line. While Sharp also makes panels for Apple, it will apparently attempt to spur growth by expanding business with Samsung. Another deal with Hon Hai Precision, which had previously said it would buy a stake in Sharp, failed to materialize after a Sharp stock tumble and reluctance to transfer control to Hon Hai.

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  • Dante D'Orazio

    Apr 11, 2013

    Dante D'Orazio

    Panasonic has developed its 'last plasma panel,' but television sales to continue

    Panasonic ZT60 Press plasma
    Panasonic ZT60 Press plasma

    Panasonic's latest television, the ZT60, is the best plasma the company has ever made. It will also be the last plasma panel to come out of the company's research and development department, which means Panasonic will never make a higher-quality plasma television.

    Rumors that Panasonic would end plasma research and development first surfaced in December, and a report from Nikkei last month said the company had closed down R&D with plans to pull out of plasma altogether as early as 2014. Panasonic Display Vice President Kiyoshi Okamoto confirmed to The Verge today at an event in New York that development has ceased, and said that the ZT60 uses "the last plasma panel" from research and development. Okamoto was quick to note, however, that panel development is not the same as television production: he made it clear that Panasonic would continue to make and sell plasma televisions into 2014 at the very least, saying that "we have a responsibility" to customers to continue production.

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  • Jeff Blagdon

    Mar 18, 2013

    Jeff Blagdon

    Panasonic scaling back TV production, possibly getting out of plasma, reports Nikkei

    panasonic logo ces stock
    panasonic logo ces stock

    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.

    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.

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  • Aaron Souppouris

    Nov 1, 2012

    Aaron Souppouris

    Sharp's future in doubt as Japanese tech continues to flounder

    sharp logo
    sharp logo

    Sharp is forecasting a second year of huge losses, predicting a 450 billion yen ($5.6 billion) loss for the current financial year. With the forecast, it issued a statement accepting that there is "material doubt" over the future of the century-old company, but outlined austerity measures that it says will ensure it stays afloat. Sharp outlined plans to cut 5,000 jobs back in August, but at the time it forecast its yearly loss at "just" 250 billion yen ($3.1 billion), meaning that in the past three months that figure has grown by a staggering 200 billion yen ($2.5 billion). A deal with Hon Hai was supposed to put around $800 million into Sharp's coffers in exchange for around a 10 percent stake in the struggling company, but falling share prices have led to a renegotiation, and the deal hasn't gone through yet.

    How does Sharp intend to curb its mounting losses? Among the measures outlined in the forecast are selling assets, managing inventories, reducing capital investments, and cutting "personnel expenses" by calling for voluntary retirements and slashing salaries. It says these measures will help it to secure its credit line, regain trust, and improve business performance. In a move reminiscent of Oldmobile's ill-fated rebranding in the eighties, Sharp proclaimed that it will reposition itself as a "lifestyle-creating company" — it's not your father's Sharp anymore. Whether the restructuring plan will be enough to ensure its survival isn't sure: the company had its stock downgraded to junk status just a month ago, and only has around 221 billion yen (around $2.7 billion) in available funds.

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  • Ben Kersey

    Oct 22, 2012

    Ben Kersey

    Philips doubles its income in Q3 following the sale of its TV division

    Philips stock
    Philips stock

    Philips has more than doubled its net profit for the third quarter following the sale of its television business. The company officially disposed of the loss-making venture in April, selling a majority stake to TPV. While the Hong Kong-based company has been busy trying to turn the brand around, Philips has seen earnings increase thanks to growth in the medical imagery and LED light bulb sectors. As a result, net income rose to €170 million, up from €76 million on the same period last year.

    In fact, sales of LED bulbs rose by 51 percent, with double-digit growth also seen in the personal care, health and wellness, and domestic appliance arms of the business. Any further success seems to be stifled by the lifestyle entertainment division, however. Philips reported a double-digit decline in that area, as the manufacturer still holds a 30 percent stake in its TV business.

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  • Andrew Webster

    Sep 4, 2012

    Andrew Webster

    Sharp may sell shares to Hon Hai at a lower price due to falling stock value

    sharp logo
    sharp logo

    Back in March Sharp entered into a manufacturing agreement that would see Hon Hai take a 9.9 percent stake in the company for around $800 million, but with Sharp's falling stock price it looks like Hon Hai may end up paying a lot less. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the two companies are currently renegotiating the per-share price that Hon Hai would end up paying. This goes along with a previous report from Nikkei that claimed Hon Hai, better known as Foxconn, requested that the cost of Sharp's shares be decreased from the originally agreed upon ¥500 per share amid the falling stock value. However, while that report claimed that Foxconn was looking to up its stake in Sharp to 20 percent, the WSJ says that the company is still expected to acquire the original 9.9 percent — though how much the company ends up paying for that stake remains to be seen. On Monday Sharp's stock closed at a price of ¥186.

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  • Justin Rubio

    Aug 17, 2012

    Justin Rubio

    Hon Hai raises the stakes, wants 20 percent ownership of Sharp

    sharp logo
    sharp logo

    Hon Hai has been on a quest to obtain a sizable ownership of Sharp, with the companies recently entering an agreement that would give Hon Hai a 9.9 percent stake in the Japanese manufacturer. Nikkei is now reporting that Hon Hai, otherwise known as Foxconn, is looking to increase that number to 20 percent. Additionally, the company has requested that the cost of Sharp's shares be decreased from the originally agreed amount of ¥500 per share as a result its recent drop in stock value and a disappointing performance during its 2011 fiscal year. Should Sharp agree to the terms and allow Hon Hai's share to exceed 10 percent, the Taiwanese company will be also able to ask the court to dissolve the business. Although Hon Hai has not indicated it would make such a move, the ability likely contributes to Sharp's hesitation.

    Sharp has already given up half of its 93 percent stake in its display division to Hon Hai, and losing an additional 10 percent of overall ownership will hurt the company even further as screens for Apple's next iPhone begin to ship. Unfortunately, Sharp's predicament is not a unique one as a majority of television manufacturing industry continues to struggle amidst a flurry of layoffs and large financial losses.

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  • Jeff Blagdon

    Aug 2, 2012

    Jeff Blagdon

    Ballooning losses at Sharp lead to 5,000 job cuts

    sharp logo 1020
    sharp logo 1020

    The planned turnaround at Sharp following last year’s record $4.7 billion loss is taking a nosedive. The company is announcing a first quarter operating loss of ¥138.4 billion (about $1.76 billion) — nearly triple 2011’s first quarter loss of ¥49.3 billion (about $628 million), thanks in part to a 28 percent year-over-year drop in sales. The bad news culminated in today's announcement of 5,000 job cuts by March of next year; the company's first since 1950. Sharp plans to accomplish the cuts using voluntary retirements and "natural attrition," reports the AFP. Management will be taking deeper pay cuts as well, ranging from 20 to 50 percent.

    The loss had a huge effect on Sharp’s forecast for the fiscal year, which swelled from a ¥30 billion loss (about $382 million) to a ¥250 billion one (about $3.18 billion) for the year ending March, 2013. Sharp also took a big hit with a settlement package for its role in an LCD price fixing scandal — a nearly $200 million expense. A tough business environment including the increasing risk of a European financial crisis, slowing growth in China and elsewhere, and ¥14.3 billion in restructuring charges (about $182 million) made matters worse.

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  • Sam Byford

    Aug 2, 2012

    Sam Byford

    Sony loses $312 million in Q1 2012 amid high restructuring costs

    Sony has announced its financial results for the first quarter of its fiscal year, and as expected for a company in transition they don't make for pleasant reading — it managed to lose $312 million off sales of $19.2 billion. Sony actually increased its sales year-on-year by 1.4 percent, attributed to the consolidation of Sony Mobile, but $143 million in restructuring costs caused operating income to slide from $270 million to $79 million. Together with the high yen and unstable situation in Europe, the company has downgraded its operating profit forecast for the year from $2.29 billion to $1.66 billion.

    The company's few profitable areas right now are its imaging, components, and music businesses, while the gaming, home entertainment, and mobile divisions are all making losses. The games division in particular was disappointing, with sales falling 14.5 percent and the PS Vita not doing much to stop the business slip into the red. However, despite a decline in sales the TV business is actually bleeding less money than this time last year, possibly due to efforts Sony is making to streamline the category. The imaging division, too, is one of the company's recent success stories with high-end cameras contributing to profits of $160 million. The company claims it is "proceeding steadily with efforts to transform our business structure," but shareholders will no doubt have to be patient.

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  • Thomas Ricker

    Jun 25, 2012

    Thomas Ricker

    Sony and Panasonic agree to co-develop large OLED panels for TVs by 2013

    Sony logo NYC HQ (STOCK)
    Sony logo NYC HQ (STOCK)

    The rumored partnership between Sony and Panasonic to build OLED TVs is now a signed deal. The two Japanese giants who've been struggling for television profits have inked a deal to jointly develop large-sized OLED panels and modules for TVs. The deal involves the co-development of printing-based OLED technologies suitable for the mass production of large, low-cost, high-resolution OLED panels and modules by 2013. While the agreement calls for Sony and Panasonic to collaborate on the underlying technologies and panels, the two companies will develop and commercialize large OLED televisions under their own brands.

    Sony was the first company to commercialize an OLED TV with the launch of its 11-inch model back in 2007. In January of this year, reports surfaced that Sony would be abandoning the OLED TV market just as LG and Samsung were announcing their very first OLED televisions. With the underlying technologies available next year, it's conceivable that Sony and Panasonic could join their South Korean competition with large OLED TVs of their own by late 2013 or 2014.

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  • Sam Byford

    May 23, 2012

    Sam Byford

    Sony and Samsung enforcing minimum pricing on TVs

    sony bravia tv stock
    sony bravia tv stock

    Samsung and Sony have both started restricting retailers from offering discounts on TVs. The Wall Street Journal reports that the move is designed to protect both the manufacturers' margins and the retailers' profits by preventing "showrooming," where customers check out models in person before buying them for less online. Showrooming was reportedly behind Target's recent decision to stop carrying Kindle hardware, with a source citing a "conflict of interest" in promoting Amazon's products.

    Apple has similarly strict policies, and Sony itself already controls the retail price of certain products such as game consoles. However, there is concern that the enforcement of minimum TV prices could drive customers to products from competitors that allow discounting, such as LG and Panasonic. Last month we saw hikes of over $1000 on Sony sets that seemed to confirm its move to a premium pricing strategy, and minimum prices for Samsung's 2012 HDTV lineup leaked back in February. Samsung has also said that it's comfortable with placing a relatively high premium on its laptops.

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  • Jeff Blagdon

    May 11, 2012

    Jeff Blagdon

    Panasonic reports $10.2 billion loss for 2012, plasma TV sales fall more than 40 percent

    panasonic logo ces 1020
    panasonic logo ces 1020

    Panasonic released its annual financial results today, and like so many of the old guard in Japan’s technology sector, things aren’t pretty. The company announced that its net loss for fiscal 2012 (the year ending March 31st) amounted to ¥812.8 billion (about $10.2 billion)— an increase of more than ¥30 billion (about $375 million) from its revised forecast in February. Like every other Japanese hardware manufacturer this year, Panasonic pointed to the effects of the 3/11 earthquake, flooding in Thailand, and the historically high yen as major factors affecting its bottom line. In the announcement, the company noted that despite streamlining and cost-cutting efforts, operating profit (profit before interest, taxes, and depreciation) decreased by 86% over the year.

    Particularly hard-hit was Panasonic’s TV business. The company only made 72 percent of the LCD sales and 59 percent of the plasma sales that it did in 2011. Panasonic's leadership knows it has a lot of hurdles to overcome to get back to profitability in 2013, and it’s planning to restructure its TV business by cutting unprofitable models and focusing on panel production for non-TV products. Also, as part of the company’s "Green Transformation 2012" initiative it’s planning to move "from Japan-oriented to globally-oriented," which means we’ll probably see more devices like the company’s Eluga handset in the year to come.

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  • Jeff Blagdon

    Apr 27, 2012

    Jeff Blagdon

    Sharp posts record $4.7 billion loss, expects to sell even fewer TVs in 2012

    sharp logo
    sharp logo

    Sharp is announcing a 376 billion-yen loss (about $4.7 billion) for fiscal 2011, well above its 290 billion-yen estimate from February, citing low sales in its primary businesses, reductions in asset valuation, restructuring expenses, and deferred income tax charges. While the company is doubtlessly in a hurry to move on, it is expecting losses to continue in 2012, to the much smaller tune of 3 billion yen (about $37 million). In addition, Sharp is forecasting TV production to decrease by nearly twenty percent, from 12.2 million to 10 million units; a repeat of last year’s decrease, during which production fell by 17 percent. In contrast, the company expects to see a 29 percent increase in sales of smaller LCD panels for mobile devices.

    While Sharp is counting on scaling back the number of TVs it makes, it’s trying to find success further upmarket. It plans to grow its 60-inch-and-bigger TV business at home and abroad, and is starting production on its new IGZO panels this month at its factory in Kameyama. And while it is expecting to sell the same 7.7 million cellphones it sold in 2011, it hopes to outpace competitors by producing high-spec devices and focusing on design — good news for fans of handsets like the Aquos 104SH. It sounds like a recipe for success, but as the company points out, the "tough business environment" is expected to continue in 2012.

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  • Andrew Webster

    Apr 24, 2012

    Andrew Webster

    LG Display suffers third straight quarterly loss

    LG logo laptop (1020)
    LG logo laptop (1020)

    LG Display has announced that for the third straight quarter it has suffered a net loss due largely to low demand for flat screen TV panels. Over the first three months of 2012 the company saw a net loss of 129 billion won ($113 million), which represents a further drop compared to last year when it posted a 115.4 billion won ($101 million) net loss. It also experienced an operating loss of 178.2 billion won ($156 million) over the same period, though revenue did rise 15.2 percent compared to last year totalling 6.18 trillion won ($5.4 billion).

    The company cites low demand for displays as the reason for the poor numbers, but believes that an anticipated increase in flat panel prices over the second quarter, as well as increased demand buoyed by major sporting events like the London Olympics, could potentially result in a profit from April to June. Shipments are expected to jump by 10 percent over that three-month period. Of course, LG Display isn't the only one experiencing problems, with companies like Sony and Panasonic suffering significant losses due to underperforming TV divisions.

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  • Jamie Keene

    Apr 20, 2012

    Jamie Keene

    Tablets the second most popular way to watch TV, says Viacom study

    Hulu iPad
    Hulu iPad

    The second most popular way to watch TV is now on a tablet, with iPads leading the way, according to a study by US media giant Viacom. The survey questioned 2,500 on where and how they watched full-length TV shows, and found that 15 percent of people's total viewing now occurs on tablets. The change has largely been at the expense of computer viewers, as Viacom's study says that the most popular genres on tablets, comedy and music, most closely align to those who'd normally watch on their PC or smartphone. Traditional television has maintained dominance in reality TV, along with drama, sci-fi, and sports.

    The study also touches on users multitasking while watching TV, saying that "many respondents use tablets to multitask or as a complementary experience" to the shows on the bigger screen. This is hardly surprising given that a recent study found that 26 percent of tablet-owning Americans used their devices while watching tv "several times a day." However, with tools like Hulu and Airplay making watching TV on a tablet easier than ever, how long will the traditional TV set be able to hold on?

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  • Apr 12, 2012

    Vlad Savov

    Sony will reduce TV portfolio by 40 percent in 2012, look to commercialize OLED and Crystal LED TVs

    Gallery Photo: Photos from Kazuo Hirai's 'One Sony' speech
    Gallery Photo: Photos from Kazuo Hirai's 'One Sony' speech

    How do you fix a problem like Sony's chronically ailing TV business? New company CEO Kaz Hirai reckons the answer lies in streamlining the number of products offered, by a full 40 percent during the fiscal 2012, and focusing on the development and introduction of new high-end displays such as OLED and Crystal LED. We loved our first sighting of Sony's Crystal LED prototype at CES in January this year, so Kaz's vision definitely strikes the right note with us. Additionally, the company's Bravia brand retains a cachet of high quality among TV buyers, so moving the entire portfolio up in the price and quality range seems like an entirely feasible goal for Sony to pursue.

    In hard financial terms, Sony will look to reduce the fixed costs of its TV production arm by 60 percent by 2013, with a view to returning to profitability — for the first time in nearly a decade — during that fiscal year. Operational costs should also drop by 30 percent if all goes to plan. Other ways in which Sony promises to enhance its Bravia TV range include better audio and better integration with the company's mobile products, both of which have a lot of promise, but aren't as concrete as the pledge to keep driving toward turning OLED and Crystal LED TVs into a retail reality. Kaz is cautious, and notes that LCD is still by the far the biggest and most important market, but you've got to be excited to see this grand Japanese company advancing into higher-tech displays.

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  • Apr 10, 2012

    Vlad Savov

    Sony doubles estimate for 2011 loss to record $6.4 billion

    vita yen
    vita yen

    Sony has just announced that it'll report a record $6.4 billion loss for the 2011 financial year. It's a bad number however you look at it, though more than half of the overall figure is made up of a tax charge (about $3.6b) that Sony has had to take in the US. That charge, together with Sony's already expected $2.9 billion loss from operations, has resulted in today's grisly revision to the company's estimated annual accounts.

    2012 is expected to be a better year, however, as Sony plans on returning to profitability with a consolidated income that should be ¥180 billion ($2.2b) in the black. We already knew Thursday's corporate strategy meeting was going to be a big deal for Sony, now Kaz Hirai will have to conduct it in the shadow of this giant looming loss.

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  • Nathan Ingraham

    Apr 1, 2012

    Nathan Ingraham

    Is Sony rolling out its promised 'unilateral' pricing strategy?

    sony tv logo
    sony tv logo

    Last month, we reported that Sony was planning to roll out a "unilateral" pricing strategy in the US on April 1st. This would essentially put an absolute minimum on what its retail partners could charge for Sony products, and its starting to look like this new strategy is rolling out as promised. Some posters on AVS Forum noticed that the price of Sony's 65-inch Bravia X929 HDTV jumped over $1000 overnight on Amazon.com, and a look at price-tracking site Camelcamelcamel.com confirms this jump. Best Buy and B&H are also both selling the TV for within a dollar of this price, with AVS Forum posts claiming this is a major price increase at the latter retailer as well. While there are definitely still variations in the price of Sony's products across the internet, we've found a number of other examples of Sony TVs getting major price increases at Amazon today, with several other retailers showing similar pricing. We knew that 2011 was a bad year for TV makers almost across the board, so we'll see if higher prices help Sony's bottom line.

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  • Sam Byford

    Mar 28, 2012

    Sam Byford

    Sony entering commercial OLED TV partnership with AU Optronics?

    sony bravia tv stock
    sony bravia tv stock

    Sony has been quiet on the OLED TV front since withdrawing its 11-inch XEL-1 from the market a couple of years ago, and while Samsung and LG showed off 55-inch OLED sets at CES this year Sony only brought its Crystal LED prototype. However, the company has always said that it was continuing development of OLED technology, and if reports coming out of Korea are to be believed its re-entry into the market may not be far off. ET News cites sources with information that Sony has sent engineers to an AU Optronics (AUO) factory in Taiwan in order to collaborate on commercial OLED development. The partnership is reportedly operating out of AUO's sixth-generation plant, which is designed to produce mid-sized panels, but if possible the companies plan to expand to the eighth-generation facility and develop larger displays.

    Chung Yoon-sung of NPD group member DisplaySearch Korea says "Sony and AUO's OLED partnership actually started last year. Basically, Sony has decided to work with Taiwanese manufacturing after Samsung and LG pushed them into third place in the market." The move would certainly seem to make sense for Sony's TV business, which has suffered huge losses due to high manufacturing costs and unfavorable exchange rates with the yen, and a move towards OLED would fit in with the company's stated desire to focus on premium products. That said, with LG announcing yesterday that its own 55-inch OLED TV will come in at around $8,000, it could be a little too premium for a Japanese manufacturer right now, even one moving away from domestic production.

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  • Sam Byford

    Mar 28, 2012

    Sam Byford

    Sony abandons further investment in Sharp LCD collaboration

    sony tv logo
    sony tv logo

    Sony has announced that it will make no further investment in Sharp Display Products Corporation (SDP), its joint LCD production venture with Sharp, following yesterday's news that Foxconn would be taking a 46.5 percent stake. The two companies have further amended their agreement to give Sony the right to sell its seven percent stake in SDP to Sharp in the event of a third party (such as Foxconn) entering in the partnership. A decision on what Sony will do with its stake is expected by September. With new CEO Kaz Hirai personally overseeing the floundering TV business as part of the new 'One Sony' restructuring initiative, it may serve the company well to divest itself of any unnecessary assets.

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  • Sam Byford

    Mar 27, 2012

    Sam Byford

    Sharp enters manufacturing partnership with Foxconn to ensure business sustainability

    sharp logo
    sharp logo

    Sharp has entered into a manufacturing agreement with Foxconn that will see the Taiwan-based company take a stake of around 10 percent in the Japanese manufacturer, making it the largest third-party shareholder ahead of Nippon Life. Foxconn has invested about ¥67 billion ($809.1 million dollars) of capital into Sharp in return for around 121.65 million new shares. Recently appointed CEO Takashi Okuda said "Until now we have handled all of our R&D and manufacturing, but going forward we will need to include partnerships in our approach," pledging to leverage both companies' strengths to get products to market efficiently.

    Foxconn will also take over up to 50 percent of the LCD production at Sharp's plant in Sakai, Osaka, potentially filling the gap left by the recent halving of output. The LCD joint venture will now be owned 46.5 percent by Sharp, the same amount by Foxconn, and 7 percent by Sony. The outside cooperation is quite unusual for a Japanese company, and can be taken as a sign that Okuda recognizes the predicament the nation's manufacturers find themselves in.

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  • Jeff Blagdon

    Mar 27, 2012

    Jeff Blagdon

    Sony reorganizes into 'One Sony', prioritizes digital imaging, gaming, and mobile

    Sony is unveiling a new business structure today, dubbed "One Sony," which it hopes will speed up and streamline its decision making process. Under the new plan, the separate professional and consumer product and service groups will disappear, which is probably what gave rise to the aspirational name. The top-tier reorganization is effective beginning April 1st, and sees the company place digital imaging, gaming, and mobile devices as the three cornerstones of its electronics business.

    In order to make sure the company leverages its strengths, the board has appointed two new members to determine which technologies to get behind and improve the user experience across all of Sony's products. Shoji Nemoto will be in overall charge of technology strategies, locating new businesses and R&D to invest in with a "process of stringent selection." Kunimasa Suzuki has been asked to head up the newly-formed UX and Product Strategy group — he'll be the man in charge of Sony's big push to improve user experience and integration among its products and services as well as the company's nascent mobile device strategy. Suzuki has been open about Sony's research into porting the Vita OS to mobile devices, which makes the decision to put him in charge all the more interesting. Additionally, Sony has identified medical technology as one of its strengths and is establishing a new medical business unit to supply doctors with the most stylish equipment on the market.

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