Hitachi puts breaks on plasma display arm

Hitachi is the fifth most popular plasma manufacturer worldwide

Hitachi has announced today that it will delay production on its new plasma display plant. With falling prices, dwindling demand for plasma TV's and fierce competition from LCD, Hitachi said it would decide by the year's end whether to press forward with its plasma plans.

Things aren't looking good for plasma. Last week Pioneer said it too is to cancel the production of its new plasma display plant and lowered its profit forecast for the year. Sony was also tipped to stop plasma production last year. Samsung and LG Philips , meanwhile, are riding high at the top of the world's flat panel charts with their LCD TVs.

It's not all bad news. Panasonic is continuing to invest millions of pounds into plasma in the belief that there is still life left in the technology. Plasma screens are perceived as being of higher quality than their LCD equivalents.

But it seems that the smaller firms that cannot afford to swallow the necessary price cuts are being driven away from the market altogether. And what with LCD screens continuing to push the frontiers - the world's largest television, Sharpe's 108-incher, is an LCD - plasma look like it will continue to struggle against its technology rivals.

Hitachi shares dipped by two per cent on the Japanese stock exchange after the announcement was made.

James Rivington

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