Plasma TVS a thing of the past
WITH its biggest cheerleader pulling out of the market, the plasma television fi nally looks doomed to history, writes Jennifer Dudley- Nicholson
THEY were once synonymous with entertainment extravagance and the best televisual experience money could buy.
Now plasma TVs are in low demand and increasingly limited supply. The format’s biggest cheerleader, Panasonic, this month revealed it will stop making plasma televisions, reducing its proponents to only two companies.
But experts and retailers alike say the plasma TV’s death has been a long time coming and that new TV technology such as OLED and 4K screens have sealed its fate.
Panasonic announced its withdrawal from the plasma market after months of speculation, explaining “declining demand” was forcing it to stop producing plasma TVs in December.
Panasonic managing director Steve Rust says the loss will be felt acutely in Australia, where consumers have been “strong followers of plasma” for the past eight years.
“It’s sad to see it fi nish after being such a good business for a long period of time,” he says.
“In Australia, we’ve enjoyed high market share with plasma for a long period as it’s offered a high- quality viewing experience at a very reasonable price.”
But even the lower prices of large plasma screens, often thousands of dollars cheaper than LCD rivals, have not been enough to save the format.
Globally, plasma TV shipments fell 19 per cent between April and June this year compared with last year, according to Display Search.
The televisions now make up only 5.1 per cent of the worldwide market, narrowly leading traditional tube televisions that represent 4 per cent of the market.
South Korean TV makers LG and Samsung still manufacture and sell plasma screens.
And LG Australia home entertainment marketing manager Grant Vandenberg confi rmed the company will continue to do so.
“Plasma technology is a cost- effective way to produce high- defi nition TVs and for as long as there is demand for this affordable product in the market, LG will continue its production,” he said.
Home entertainment expert Steve Dawson said it’s more advanced technology forcing plasma screens out of the market. Once the premium TV technology, plasma screens are now seen as power hungry and lacking the bright colours, deep blacks and slim profi les of their organic light- emitting diode ( OLED) rivals.
It’s sad to see it fi nish after being such a good business for a long
period of time
“It seems to me, if you’ve got a new premium technology coming in at the top end, it only leaves a romantic attachment to the technology that’s come before it,” Mr Dawson said.
“The OLED TVs are beautiful. You’ve got any colour, as bright as you like, right next door to blacks as black as you like.”
Harvey Norman executive director David Ackery says OLED TVs are currently being held back by high prices and limited availability, but will “sell really well” when supplies increase.
Mr Ackery predicts 4K or Ultra High- Defi nition televisions in sizes “60 inches and above” will become more popular this year and next as more consumers become aware of the technology.
Mr Rust says Panasonic will be changing its focus to this technology in future, with more research into OLED television, too.
“The TV industry is so competitive, it’s hard to drive and innovate across multiple platforms,” he says. “We need to marshall our resources around ( 4K) LCD and maybe OLED down the track.”