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Sony benches OLED TVs for 4K sets

TOKYO -- Sony has decided to put commercial development of OLED televisions on ice for now and instead focus on 4K ultrahigh-definition LCD TVs.

     OLED TVs remain a promising next-generation TV technology with their clear pictures and fast response times. That is why Sony continued development work alone this year after it dissolved its collaborative tie-up with Panasonic at the end of 2013. But South Korean rivals LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics have moved ahead of the Japanese company in this field.

     Sony does not see real demand for OLED TVs taking off anytime soon, whereas its 4K LCD TVs are generating revenue now and could help its TV business return to the black for the first time in 11 years in the year to March 2015. 4K TVs are priced around 100,000 yen ($970) higher than regular flat-panel TVs.

     Sony currently enjoys an industry-leading share of the global market for 4K TVs. It accounted for more than 20% of the value of all shipments in 2013 and sees an opportunity to leverage its brand appeal to expand in this market. It will release eight 4K models this summer, which is more than double the number of last year, and aims to quadruple sales this fiscal year. The 4K models will constitute around 40-50% of Sony's total lineup of large flat-panel TVs, compared with the 10-20% ratio of last business year.

     Sony will reassign the people now working to develop OLED TVs at the Atsugi Technology Center and elsewhere to other tasks, including development of 4K-related products.

     At the same time, the company will take steps to cut costs in order to turn its TV business around. That includes plans to slash labor expenses for consumer electronics products by more than 20%.


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