Panasonic OLED Rumor de Jour

The uber bloggers over at Gizmodo are reporting that the Sankei Shimbun newspaper is rumoring that Panasonic will join the OLED parade in 2011, right behind Sony (in current production), Samsung (rumored for 2009) and LG (also rumored for 2011). In particular, Panasonic is apparently setting up OLED production at the IPS Alpha Technology factory in Japan. The future TV will feature a 37-inch screen, and the newspaper is quoting a price of $1,390.

I'm not sure how accurate that price prediction will be, but it seems certain that Panasonic will test the OLED waters. The LCD and plasma market is intensely tough, and profits are being battled down to nothingness. OLED promises to be an "in" technology that will command higher desires, and higher profits.

As with most new technologies, OLED is hard to manufacture. This helps protect the technology from competition, and preserves prices. Unlike mature technologies (like LCD and plasma) OLED also offers the opportunity to leapfrog the competition, and prove technical superiority and bragging rights.

All that makes sense, and like I said, it seems logical that Panasonic will get into OLED. But, by the time 2011 rolls around, it's also logical that LCD and plasma will be even better and even cheaper. That will make it even tougher for OLED to make a dent in their market dominance. Also, by 2011, it's possible that entirely new display technologies will come along, possibly squeezing OLED between the established technologies, and even newer ones.

So, ventures into OLED production are not sure bets. We may, or may not, ever see big OLEDs at the bargain prices that mass-production engenders. And, last but not least, for ultimate success, OLED must overcome its relatively short lifespan issues. One thing is for sure: the future is unpredictable. -Ken C. Pohlmann