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Sony Targets OLED To Regain Panel Leadership

by David Mercer | 2月 20, 2008

As if to demonstrate that it was not resting on its laurels after Blu-ray's defeat of HD-DVD, Sony yesterday also announced new investment in OLED technology. The company plans to spend 22 billion Yen ($200m), partly to buy out Toyota's share of the manufacturing joint venture, and partly to ramp up production of OLED panels so that it can begin to offer larger screen displays from 2010. Sony has been selling its 11" OLED TV in Japan and the US, although the premium price of $2500 makes it little more than a statement of intent at this stage, and the company is still thought to be losing money on each product. Nevertheless OLED's potential is exciting because it offers the most realistic long term competitor to LCD in the flat panel TV market. The theoretical benefits of OLED over LCD include lower power consumption, thinner displays, more realistic colour reproduction, wider viewing angle and faster response time. It is also hoped that they will eventually be cheaper to manufacture than LCDs. But the relative scale all of these benefits over LCD will only diminish over time as LCD technology continues to improve. Ultra thin OLEDs are undoubtedly impressive, but LCD TVs less than 1" thick will be dominating the market in a few years' time just when OLEDs are beginning to challenge them. This fast moving escalator of price-performance ratios is what makes OLED investment so risky. Sony's latest investment at least demonstrates its determination to lead the industry in the next generation of panel technologies, in contrast to its failure to predict the success of LCD a few years ago. But it is going to take a lot more than $200m to ensure Sony's OLED leadership, especially when Samsung has similar ambitions. Client Reading: CES 2008 and Beyond: Can the Wow Factor Make a Comeback? HD Discs: Blu-ray Wins Battle, Not War Add to Technorati Favorites
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