What a difference a few years make! The first day of IFA press conferences, featured Sony and Panasonic. The tone is symptomatic of the industry, as it finally executes the ‘value’ part of its ‘volume to value’ strategy in flat panel TV.
Panasonic: back in the black!
Panasonic kicked off with an expansion of its energy efficiency and greener living theme from last year. There was no Tesla car on stage this year- instead news that Panasonic has a new factory up and running in Slovakia, making hybrid vehicle batteries for Volkswagen. There was a nice live demonstration of content throwing from camera to TV and then from the TV to a smartphone, showing that the company clearly ‘gets’ that usage is the differentiator…The conference ended with the launch of Panasonic white goods, viewable publicly for the first time.
This year again seems to be about trophy bigger and better products: Panasonic has a 145” 8k4k plasma panel and 103” auto-stereoscopic PDP for signage, while Sony is launching an 84” 4k2k TV. Looking at the Sony set, what is clear is that this is a real commercial product, with even a SCART socket on the back. With LGE having launched a similar size set last week in Korea, pricing (while not announced) would be around $25,000 at least – and probably more like €25,000 locally including sales taxes.
Panasonic’s latest in ultra-large display technology
Sony’s 84” 4k2k TV, which looks like a production product, not a demonstrator.
What was clear about Sony was the more down-to-earth style of Kazuo Hirai. A journalist friend told me that he had an interview with him, something apparently not possible under previous leadership. I have never seen the word ‘turnaround’ in a Sony press conference before.
It would appear that this new management has already killed a few sacred projects: there was no mention of OLED TV, and the crystal LED demonstrator was not visible. The new strategy is summed up as Games, Mobile and Digital Imaging.
Sony appears to have decided to invest its money somewhere other than TV.