Less than one year ago, Sony (NYSE:
) experienced an
18 percent decline
in the sale of LCD televisions.
Before that announcement, Sony confirmed its plans to layoff
At the same time, other Japanese display makers -- including
) and Sharp -- endured
that threatened to bankrupt their firms.
Sharp's internal outlook was particularly grim; last fall the
that it had "material doubt" that it could survive.
While Sony has other sources of income (PlayStation 4 ought to
when it is released this fall), Sharp and Panasonic's businesses
are heavily tied to TV production.
This has become a growing problem for the two firms, which
the top TV sales position to Samsung.
Worse yet, global LCD TV shipments for all manufacturers
fell for the first time
TV makers hope that the new 4K Ultra HD panels can change that
in 2013. According to
(the TV research arm at NPD Group), TFT LCD panel suppliers
expect to ship 2.6 million 4K LCD TV panels in 2013. This
represents a 40-fold increase from 2012, at which time a mere
63,000 4K panels were shipped.
Ultra HD is very important to the near-term growth of new
television sets. While TV makers had hoped that 3D and Internet
connectivity would spur new sales in 2011 and 2012, consumers
turned out to be less interested in these additions.
Most consumers have found that they do not need a special TV
to get online -- they can simply use a PlayStation, Xbox 360 or
an Internet-enabled set-top box. Even Blu-ray players are being
designed with online capabilities built right into the device.
This makes the cost of a full TV upgrade less appealing.
While 3D movies and games cannot be experienced without a
specially designed TV, Fergal Gara (Sony's UK boss) recently
admitted that consumers are not too excited about this
"Consumers decide how relevant it is," Gara told
. "It's fair to say consumers have decided it's not hugely
important at this time. It's a capability we've got. It may have
a bigger life a little further down the line."
Ultra HD, however, is the new kid on the block. With a higher
resolution (3,840 x 2,160) that promises to deliver the most
impressive picture quality ever produced, Sony, Sharp, Panasonic
and other TV makers are hoping that consumers will be willing to
If they don't, these tech giants could be left with 2.6
million oversized paperweights.
Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer
of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or
email@example.com. Follow him
(c) 2013 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment
advice. All rights reserved.
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