Panasonic and Pioneer have announced that they are to scale up their collaboration in the Plasma television market. The deal is likely to result in the market-leading Kuro and Viera plasma panel technologies being combined and put in both Pioneer and Panasonic TVs.
The practical upshot of this is that Panasonic will be producing super hybrid-plasma display panels for both itself, and for Pioneer. Pioneer will then take some of the PDPs from Panasonic and build its own TVs using its proprietary image processing technology, while Panasonic uses the lion's share of the panels to continue its own line of brand new Viera sets.
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"In collaboration with Pioneer, Matsushita [Panasonic’s parent company] will develop and manufacture PDPs and modules on which their technological strengths are concentrated," reads the joint press release.
"Matsushita plans to start supplying these newly-developed PDPs and modules in time for Pioneer’s release of new PDP products which will be available in the autumn of 2009. By promoting the integration of their PDP technologies and sharing the same PDP, Pioneer and Matsushita intend to increase efficiency in panel development and production and boost their cost competitiveness in the flat-panel TV market," it says.
It’s all a bit confusing. But the key message here is that Pioneer and Panasonic TV technology is going to combine and get better. And with all the panels being manufactured in the same place, an economy of scale will be created, meaning the TVs will be a lot cheaper to produce.
Better, cheaper plasma TVs
For Pioneer fans this is great news. Because they’ll likely be able to buy improved Kuro TVs from autumn 2009 onwards for a cheaper price than they can currently. Kuro TVs are considered to be the best on the market, but they’re also by far the most expensive.
And for Panasonic buyers too, the benefits are huge. Prices could come down slightly, but more importantly, future Viera TVs will come packing the extreme-black, low-luminance technology currently only found in Pioneer’s Kuro TVs.
The two companies will also be collaborating on research and development projects to further improve their joint PDP production. At CES in Las Vegas this year, Pioneer unveiled the world's most advanced plasma display panel. It has zero luminance, which means black areas of the screen are perfect black. Even the best current-production TVs from Pioneer and Panasonic look very grey in comparison.
It’s logical to assume, then, that Pioneer and Panasonic will combine to push forward with the development of this extreme-black concept panel in the hope of bringing it to market sooner rather than later.
The exact arrangements of the deal between Pioneer and Panasonic have not yet been finalised. So there could be more to come. But Panasonic and Pioneer promise that we’ll know more by May.