Report: Panasonic Planning To Ditch The Plasma TV Market Next Year

If you’re thinking of buying a plasma TV from Panasonic, you might want to hop on it lickety-split: A new report says Panasonic is wiping its hands of the plasma business by March 2014. It’s all turning into a losing business prospect for the Japanese company and the TV industry in general.

Reuters cites sources in the know, noting that pretty much everyone expected Panasonic to back out of the business that’s contributed to a $15 billion net loss in the last two years, but that the exit is looming sooner than expected.

Panasonic had been widely expected to back out of the unprofitable business, but the exit comes sooner than predicted and underlines President Kazuhiro Tsuga’s determination to weed out weak operations as he focuses on higher-margin products to end years of losses at the consumer electronics conglomerate.

Panasonic’s TV division has been a major contributor to the electronics company’s combined $15 billion (9 billion pounds) net loss in its two latest financial years. Its TV business posted an operating loss of 88.5 billion yen ($913 million) in the last financial year.

The move to abandon plasma marks the end of a technological era, one that was once booming but has now been outdone by LCD TVs. LCDs account for 87% of global shipments of TVs in 2012, compared to only 6% for plasma panels.

Panasonic said in a statement that it continued to consider various options for the plasma display panel business but that nothing had been decided yet.

So what does this mean for those of us who watch TV? It would shrink the competition for the only other two makers of plasma TVs, Samsung and LG, which could make it harder for consumers to afford the higher prices that usually result from a dearth of choices, points out CNET.com’s David Katzmeier.

And unless Samsung and LG decide to go all out and offer an increase of affordable, high-performing options, he predicts “a big hole in the market where Panasonic used to be.”

Panasonic to exit plasma TV panel business by end-March 2014 [Reuters]
Panasonic’s exit from plasma would sour TV value sweet spot [CNET.com]