Sony is in talks with the Taiwan-based AU Optronics Corp to produce next-gen ultra-thin OLED TVs, according to a report by the Reuters news agency.
After a fairly slow start, two of Sony’s Korean rivals, Samsung and LG, are each scaling up their commitments to making OLED (organic light emitting diode) panels, which offer rich colours, pin-sharp resolution, extremely deep black levels and consume very little electricity compared to plasma panels or backlit LCD – even LED types.
Reuters points out that Sony’s new CEO, Kazuo Hirai, is open to co-operating in new TV tech as part of a strategy to turn around the loss-making corporation’s fortunes.
The article also quotes Nobuo Kurahashi, an analyst at Mizuho Investors Securities: "We know that Sony will have to form some kind of alliance with a third party since it would be difficult for it to capture more share in the OLED TV area alone. It's not a surprise if it is considering a tie-up [with AU]. For Taiwan and Japan, their interests coincide. If they don't do anything, there will always be a gap in market share."
In 2007 Sony brought out the pioneering 11in XEL-1 OLED screen. At $2,000 it wasn’t ever going to be a mass market item but it showed what the technology could do, even in a small size. Sony stopped selling those in Japan in 2010, though it continued for a couple of years in America and Europe.
As recently as January this year, it was reported that Sony was ceasing in-house production of OLED for home TVs, though it is still making OLED monitors for commercial clients. It has other technologies in development, such as crystal LED, which like OLED is self-illuminating and therefore does not require a backlight.
However, Samsung and LG have demoed 55in OLED TVs lately, which could have prompted Sony into considering an alternative and cost-effective way to keep up in this emerging but still very expensive sector.