LG is reportedly in talks with Panasonic to supply large OLED panels to the Japanese giant, possibly leading to price reductions as manufacturing volume increases.
I'm normally loath to report rumors, but this one is just too good to pass up. According to the Bloomberg business-news site
, LG Display—an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) panel maker in which LG Electronics owns a 38% share—is in discussions with Panasonic to supply OLED panels larger than 55 inches to the ex-plasma king. Unfortunately, no one at either company went on record officially because the talks are private, though a spokesperson for Panasonic in Japan said the company is considering options for its OLED business and nothing has been decided.
In its response to this report, British TV-review site HDTVtest made some interesting points
—for example, if such a deal were to be struck, it could lead to lower OLED TV prices as LG Display increases manufacturing volume and experiences the subsequent economies of scale. Of course, OLED TV sales have been meager to say the least, primarily because of astronomical prices, so this might be a huge boon to the entire OLED market.
HDTVtest also speculates that the OLED panels supplied by LG Display to Panasonic will be UHD, since LG Display doesn't make 1080p OLED panels larger than 55 inches. In addition, Panasonic has stated that it believes OLED TVs should be UHD/4K, so this could be a match made in heaven.
Another interesting tidbit from the HDTVtest piece is that LG has been selling its OLED panels to some of the Chinese manufacturers, which have virtually no market presence outside their home country. However, if CES last January is any indication, that could soon change as companies such as TCL and Hisense make their way into the world market—for example, I don't think TCL would have paid for naming rights to the world-famous Chinese Theater in Hollywood, CA, if it wasn't planning to boost its presence in the US. And I'm fairly confident that the Chinese brands will likely be less expensive than those from Korea or Japan.
One question that comes to mind is, will the Panasonic OLEDs sourced from LG Display be flat or curved? It seems that only the Korean manufacturers are obsessed with curved screens, but LG Display is a Korean OEM owned in large part by LG Electronics, so perhaps it's focused on curved screens as well. If this deal goes through, I can only hope that Panasonic insists on flat screens.
This could be very good news for all flat-panel videophiles, especially since Samsung and Sony seem to have backed away from OLED as we reported here
—rumors again, I know, but anything related to OLED is of great importance to AVS. In any event, we will be keeping a close eye on any further developments in this and other OLED news.
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