OSAKA -- Panasonic will roll out organic light-emitting diode televisions in Japan around fiscal 2017, as it focuses on upscale TVs.
Currently LG Group of South Korea is the only manufacturer that sells such TVs in Japan.
Panasonic likely will offer TVs with 65-inch screens priced no less than 1 million yen ($8,040) -- three to four times as expensive as 4K ultrahigh definition TVs. Light-omitting organic materials offer more vivid color and are faster in switching displays.
Manufacturing difficulties have made LG practically the only supplier of such displays. Limited supply explains why global sales of OLED TVs were just 100,000 units last year compared with 200 million units for liquid crystal display models.
Panasonic will buy OLED panels from LG and enhance them with its proprietary image-processing technologies.
In Europe, Panasonic rolled out 65-inch OLED TVs for 9,999 euros ($10,634) at the end of October. The products have been well received on image quality despite the lofty price. The Japanese company decided to release them at home, too, anticipating demand from enthusiasts. The company likely will handle production at a Tochigi Prefecture plant in the city of Utsunomiya.
U.S. research company IHS Technology projects that Japanese demand for flat screen TVs will recover to 8.7 million units in 2019, ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, from 5.7 million in 2014. Panasonic aims to sell 2.5 million TVs in Japan in fiscal 2018, double the volume of fiscal 2014, by focusing on high-end offerings. It plans to increase 4K models by around 50% from the current 13.