Japan's AV retreat is home cinema's breaking heart

Where did it all go wrong?

From the aptly-named Pioneer plasmas to the first big LCD TVs from Sharp, the history of TV is all about Japan.

The present and the future, however, are anything but.

Japan dropped the ball. "Japanese TV brands didn't catch-up with the fast-moving TV industry trend towards flat panel display – LCD, plasma and AMOLED – from CRT. FPD display is an equipment industry, therefore scale is the most important," says Hong. "Korean companies had aggressively invested on FPD industry while most Japanese brands … under-estimated the technology and evolving speed of LCD, while some companies invested in plasma and other display technologies. But eventually only LCD survived."

LG's OLED TVs are now on sale, undermining the 'Japan is best' message.

LG's OLED TVs are now on sale, undermining the 'Japan is best' message.

A curve-ball from OLED

There are some foreign-made TVs in Japanese electronics stores, notably low-priced sets from LG and Hi-Sense. However, the absence of high-end TVs from Samsung and LG also means that Japanese TV buyers didn't witness the birth of either curved TVs or OLED TVs.

That all changed in May of this year when LG launched its 65EG9600 in Japan – the first time the country has seen either a big OLED TV or a curved TV.

Up until that point both had been purely Korean phenomenons.

"It is enough to show consumers what Korean TV manufacturers are capable of in terms of technologies, one of the major competitive advantages for Japanese manufacturers," says Yamaguchi.

However, its chances are as slim as its 4mm girth.

"LG is likely to struggle because of the strong brand loyalty towards the domestic brands amongst Japanese consumers," says Yamaguchi.

Akihabara, Tokyo

Akihabara, Tokyo

Few may buy LG's curved OLED TVs, but its very existence eats away at the 'Japan is better' mantra.

Cue the recent – and much-needed – announcement by Panasonic of the 65-inch TX-65CZ950 OLED TV, which is the first TV to be granted THX 4K certification.

Perhaps the arrival of a Japan-made OLED will help keep the domestic market loyal, but across the rest of the world the once undisputed home of home cinema has already conceded defeat.

Jamie Carter

Jamie is a freelance tech, travel and space journalist based in the UK. He’s been writing regularly for Techradar since it was launched in 2008 and also writes regularly for Forbes, The Telegraph, the South China Morning Post, Sky & Telescope and the Sky At Night magazine as well as other Future titles T3, Digital Camera World, All About Space and Space.com. He also edits two of his own websites, TravGear.com and WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com that reflect his obsession with travel gear and solar eclipse travel. He is the author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners (Springer, 2015),