Pioneer Exiting 42-inch Plasma Market
According to a report by Reuters, Pioneer is ceasing the production of 42-inch plasma TV panels by March of 2009. It will continue to market and sell panels of that size by obtaining them from Panasonic and Hitachi, however Pioneer will focus solely on panel sizes of 50-inches or larger. The plant in contention is one which focused on this size panel located in Kagoshima (southern Japan) which Pioneer originally purchased from NEC. Pioneer is now looking to have NEC purchase the plant back so it can focus on larger panel sizes.
This plays directly into Pioneer's current plasma TV plan which focuses on more high-end models and eschews the budget-level panels which are wreaking havoc on profit margins everywhere. Pioneer has long established its desire to not engage in battling over the lowest price product and instead focus on high-end technologies and quality, debuting its super-dark Kuros line of plasmas last year.
This appears to be one more step in completing that market plan, though Pioneer seems unwilling to leave the 42-inch market entirely, instead allowing other manufacturers to supply its panels while it focuses manufacturing efforts on larger, more expensive models. This may also be a lead-in to Pioneer's acceleration of thin plasma production, however it remains to be seen how quickly, and effectively, that can take on thin-LCD technology in the upcoming years.
On a related news item, fans of Panasonic (Matsushita Electric Industrial Co Ltd) may want to note that the company announced earlier this month it would spend around $2.8 billion to build an LCD panel plant by 2010. This is certainly not an indication that their plasma TV manufacturing is being phased out, but a strong indicator that the company is beefing up its ability to manufacture larger quantities and sizes of LCD panels.
This makes sense for them too. They can't compete at those price levels with Panasonic or even LCD manufacturers.