We heard the rumours earlier in the week, but now Pioneer has given the official word: the company is pulling out of plasma panel production. Its not all bad news, though, as Pioneer will still be producing TVs, just with outsourced panels rather than those made in-house.
From the way the press release is worded, the indication is that Pioneer will be outsourcing production of its own panel technology, rather than buying in other manufacturers' products. This should mean that the awesome quality of the KURO range shouldn't be diminished - although details are still being finalised so fingers crossed!
The information also details that Pioneer is planning to work with Sharp to break into LCD TV production, moving away from the current plasma-only line-up. The plan is to extend the KURO legacy in to the LCD arena; a bold ambition given the comparatively terrible black levels of LCD compared to plasma TVs. Pioneers first LCD TVs are scheduled for Europe come autumn, so we shall see if the promises hold true then.
The two companies will also be teaming up in regard to Blu-ray player production, although no more information is given about that venture other than the promise that it will further help in bolstering Pioneer's profitability. That may help reassure Pioneer's share holders, but there's no promise it will lead to better products - although given the company's credentials hopes should be high.
Pioneer press release (PDF Alert).