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2017 to mark dawn of OLED TV era

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Electronics makers aim to boost the sluggish market ahead of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020.

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — This year is expected to herald a new era for the popularization of organic light-emitting diode display television sets.

Toshiba Corp. launched OLED TVs in March, followed by Sony Corp. and Panasonic Corp. in June.

They compete with South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc., which has effectively monopolized the Japanese OLED TV market since 2015. It was the only supplier in Japan until the local makers released their products.

The overall Japanese TV market is in the doldrums between replacement demand peaks that occur at intervals of about 10 years. The most recent peak happened when Japan fully shifted from analog to digital terrestrial broadcasting in 2011.

Electronics makers aim to boost the sluggish market ahead of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020, around the time of the expected next replacement demand peak.

OLED TVs provide a clearer contrast between the brightest and darkest parts of images than liquid crystal display TVs. In OLED TVs, each pixel emits light, making external backlighting unnecessary, unlike in LCD TVs.

OLED TVs “show the color of black well and suppress afterimages, making them suitable for watching movies and sports,” said an official at electronics retailer Bic Camera Inc.’s outlet in the Yurakucho business district in central Tokyo.

In 2010, Sony pulled the plug on its OLED TV operations after releasing an 11-inch model in 2007, which was the world’s first family-use OLED TV.

LG Electronics has succeeded in mass production of large-size OLED panels, while Sony failed. The South Korean group is the only stable supplier of large panels at present, industry people say.

This makes it difficult for OLED TV makers to differentiate themselves from rivals in terms of the quality of panels.

They are focusing on audio systems instead.

Sony’s new OLED TV sets have no conventional speakers, as display panels vibrate to produce sound. This allows viewers to enjoy a feeling of unity between sound and image, according to the company.

Panasonic employs technologies for its high-end audio products, while Toshiba equips its OLED TVs with newly developed speakers.

According to British research firm IHS Markit Ltd., global shipments of OLED TVs are projected to total 5.2 million units in 2020, an eightfold jump from 650,000 units in 2016.

Meanwhile, the key problem blocking the spread of OLED TVs is high prices. Japanese 65-inch models cost more than ¥800,000, or 1.5-2.5 times the prices of their LCD counterparts.

Last month, Sharp Corp. said it aims to develop OLED panels for TV sets.

The move could end LG’s monopoly and start competition. Panel prices would then drop, helping speed up the popularization of OLED TVs, said Ichiro Michikoshi of Tokyo-based research firm BCN Inc.Speech

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