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Why Panasonic Ending Plasma TV Production is No Surprise

After a report on Reuters earlier this month that Panasonic would be shutting down its Plasma television business, the Japanese electronics company has announced today that its three remaining factories in Japan would stop producing plasma televisions in December. The company shut down three other plasma-display factories in 2012.

The reason for Panasonic’s departure from the plasma business is not hard to see. In 2012, U.S. consumers spent $2.15 billion buying 2.98 million plasma TVs; by 2015, the forecast is just 1.33 million sets for a total of $923 million, according to Steve Koenig, director of industry analysis at the Consumer Electronics Association. Comparatively, Americans purchased 36.2 million LCD televisions for a total of $16.8 billion in 2012. 

MORE: 4 Reasons Not to Get a 4K TV — Yet

Despite this shift, Panasonic increased its profit forecast for the year today from 250 billion yen to 270 billion yen, about $2.75 billion. The company cited strong sales of automotive displays and the plan to increase sales of batteries to Tesla motors from 200 million cells over the last two years to a total of two billion cells by 2017.

Panasonic’s Plasma televisions have been lauded for their color quality and deep blacks. And plasma TVs generally have wider viewing angles and better clarity of motion in the picture, compared to LCD and LED-LCD televisions. But, regardless, the latter televisions have come to dominate the market. 

The television industry is progressing toward LED sets with 4K resolutions, or Ultra HD as it is sometimes known. Panasonic currently sells a 65” LED-LCD with 4K and has already announced that a 56-inch OLED with 4K is in production.

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