Sony Corp. has discontinued production of TV sets with organic electroluminescence (EL) display panels, widely seen as the mainstream panel to be used in next-generation flat-screen TVs, it was learned Saturday.
Though Sony will continue selling organic EL monitors for its corporate clients, it will concentrate its home-use TV production business on liquid-crystal display models.
The move comes as South Korean makers are aiming to strengthen sales of their large-screen organic EL TV sets, and underlines the difficulties domestic manufacturers are facing in the TV production market.
Sony released the world's first organic EL TV model in 2007. With some organic panels as thin as 3 millimeters, the TVs were said to be a symbol of Sony's revival as an advanced-technology developer.
The display panels of organic EL TVs are composed of electroluminescent organic materials that emit light when activated.
Organic EL TV sets do not require a backlight behind the screen, unlike LCD panels. As a result, organic EL panels are thinner and consume less electricity.
Since organic EL screens can reproduce colors more precisely than previous models, users can enjoy a picture with a higher resolution than that of LCD and plasma-screen TVs.
Though Sony's organic EL TVs were relatively expensive - with a small unit priced at 200,000 yen (US$2,596.72) - Sony received numerous orders for the products when they were first released.
Sony had been the nation's only manufacturer of organic EL TVs. But the company had minimized capital investment in the area partly because of its poor business performance.
As a result, the company lagged behind South Korean rivals in terms of price competitiveness and enlarging sizes of organic TV products.
Sony discontinued domestic sales of the organic-screen TVs in 2010, but continued to export them to the United States and Europe.
The company said it would continue its sales, research and development of organic EL panels for monitors used by broadcasting companies and other corporate clients, but will withdraw from the market for home-use models of organic TVs.
Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. of South Korea plan to release 55-inch organic EL TVs at home and abroad in 2012 at the earliest.
The two companies will likely display the products at the Consumer Electronics Show, the world's largest technology convention, starting Tuesday in the United States.
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