Panasonic Plasma TV Production Ending: Reports Nikkei
Panasonic’s new ZT line of plasma TVs has not yet started shipping to dealers.
This is terrible news for home theater enthusiasts.
According to Nikkei, Panasonic is engaging in a three-year downsizing plan, beginning next fiscal year, selling off assets and real estate. The report says Panasonic will end plasma production at its Amagaskai plant next year and is already halting development on new plasma TVs.
This news comes just a few months after Panasonic unveiled at CES 203 a new line of high-performance plasma TVs that many people thought were among the best-looking video displays at the show. Panasonic’s ZT line, which has yet to ship to retailers, offered plasma performance comparable to Pioneer’s venerated Kuro TVs. While plasma TVs lack some of the sex appeal of newer OLED technology, the ZT line would presumably be more affordable and thus more available to a wider audience.
For several years now, Panasonic has been carrying the banner of plasma TV, making them thinner, lighter, and better performing every year. In addition, on a dollar-per-inch basis, plasma is a better value than most LED LCD TVs. I called Panasonic’s ST line of plasmas the best value in the TV market in 2012.
The TV business has not been good to Panasonic lately. “Panasonic’s TV business, which generated sales of more than 1 trillion yen ($10.5 billion) during the peak in 2009/2010, is seen earning less than half of that amount in 2015/2016, the newspaper said without citing any sources,” says the report.
And here’s more bad news: according to Bloomberg, Panasonic’s stock rose the highest it’s been in six weeks immediately after the plasma news broke. Will Panasonic listen to its stockholders more than its customers? We’ll have to wait and see.