Sony to Realign its Americas LCD Manufacturing Operations

Sony to Realign its Americas LCD Manufacturing Operations
– Forms Strategic Alliance with Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry –

Sony Corporation (“Sony”) announced that it has agreed to form a strategic alliance with Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd. (“Hon Hai”) for the production of LCD TVs for the Americas region. Based on this agreement, the Sony Group will sell to Hon Hai Group 90% of its shares in Sony Baja California and certain manufacturing assets related to Sony Baja California’s Tijuana site in Mexico (“Tijuana site”), which mainly manufactures LCD TVs for the Americas region. Following the sale, Hon Hai Group will hold 90% ownership of Sony Baja California and the Sony Group will retain a 10% share. The Tijuana site will remain a key manufacturing facility of Sony LCD TVs for the Americas region. Hon Hai Group will assume employment of employees at the Tijuana site.

Within its LCD TV business, Sony is concentrating internal resources towards areas that contribute to product differentiation, such as R&D, engineering and design, while also establishing a structure that enables the company to bring attractive products to market at the earliest possible opportunity. At the same time, by proactively leveraging external manufacturing resources Sony will also seek to reduce fixed costs, drive other cost reductions, improve profitability and achieve business expansion.

Completions of the transfers are subject to regulatory approvals in several countries.

No material impact from the transfer on Sony’s consolidated financial results for the current fiscal year for the transfer is anticipated.

Overview of Sony Baja California, S.A. de C.V

Location: Tijuana City, State of Baja California, United Mexican States
Date established: October, 1985 (Commencement of Operation; March 1986)
Number of employees: 3,300 (as of July 31, 2009)
Site area: 152,289m2
Representative: Takahiro Kawamura
Key products: LCD TVs, tuners, home audio and car audio

SAMSUNG Introduces High Performance Plasma HDTVs At CES 2009


Samsung Electronics America, Inc.,, a market leader and award-winning innovator in consumer electronics, has unveiled two series of advanced plasma HDTVs. Delivering full HD 1080p resolution, increased energy efficiency, breath-taking design and deeper levels of black performance, Samsung’s latest plasma line sets a new standard of excellence in the Plasma HDTV category.

The entire line-up will be on display at Booth #11033 during the International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center, January 8 – 11, 2009.

“Samsung is taking bold steps forward with its 2009 plasma line-up,” said Steve Panosian, director of Visual Display Marketing at Samsung Electronics America. “By combining superior picture quality, energy efficiency and networking options with the latest audio-visual technologies, the Series 8 and 6 plasmas are sure to become the model of excellence in plasma HDTVs.”

Luxurious Design
Measuring just over an inch in depth, Samsung’s Series 8 Plasma HDTVs is the world’s slimmest 1080p resolution plasma sets to feature built-in ATSC tuners.

Featuring a New ToC™ treated chassis, the Series 8 sports a chrome-like translucent surface, which encases the bezel. This unique treatment contrasts the TV’s black bezel to enhance its ultra-slim depth. Additionally, the outer edges of the bezel resemble a prism, magnifying light in such a way that its color intensity changes depending on the viewing angle.

In the case of the Series 6, a specially-designed, semi-transparent rose black hue lends a seductive hint of color to the TV’s glass-like frame. Each of the HDTV’s gracefully curved edges is transparent, creating the illusion of a display floating in mid-air. Further enhancing the design, the sets are also supported by a clear, reinforced glass stand giving it a “barely there” appearance.

Breathtaking Picture Quality
Despite their slim design, Samsung’s Plasma HDTVs harness the latest display technology to produce unmatched picture performance and deliver the ultimate in HDTV viewing experience.

These advancements include an extremely high dynamic contrast ratio along with Ultra FilterBright technology, which uses arrays of black-coated color enhancement film to minimize glare and maximize contrast. Additionally, Samsung’s Ultra Filter Bright Plus reduces the luminance in black levels by 50 percent over previous models for one of the darkest blacks ever seen on an HDTV.

And Samsung’s exclusive Wide Color Enhancer 3 maps HD or SD signals to the panel’s native color space, which covers 110 percent of the HD specification, helping the set portray hues in lifelike brilliance.

Sophisticated Multimedia and Networking Skills
The Series 8 and 6 plasma HDTVs are also equipped with the Internet@TV – Content Service platform that brings the best of the Web to the television. Powered by the innovative Yahoo! Widget Engine, Samsung’s Internet TV – Content Service enables users to access internet based multimedia content from their favorite Internet sources . They’ll not only be able to take care of everyday tasks like tracking stocks and staying on top of headline news, but users can also browse videos, share photos and interact with friends. The suite of services ranges from a host of Yahoo! properties (Flickr, News, Weather and Finance) to third-party content from well-known names including USA Today, YouTube and eBay.

Samsung’s newest plasma displays are among the first TVs to be wireless DLNA-compliant, allowing consumers to enjoy their entire library of media content that may exist in various locations around the house without the hassle of extra cabling. Additionally, users can connect storage and mobile devices to the USB 2.0 port to play a variety of multimedia files via USB 2.0 Movie. An expanded list of supported codecs, which will also include 3GPP, MKV, WMV9 and DivX, gives consumers even more freedom to easily access and share nearly all forms of digital content.

The Greenest Plasmas Yet
Samsung has gone to great lengths to make all the new Plasma HDTVs the most eco-friendly plasma line yet. Engineered with high-efficiency panels, these sets intelligently conserve power and as a result meet the stringent Energy Star 3.0 efficiency standard. In addition, these HDTVs are constructed using lead-free materials, making them even more environmentally friendly than the competition.

Panasonic Introduces Super High-Efficient Thin-Profile Plasma and LCD HDTV Displays

Panasonic, the industry and technology leader in HDTVs, has developed new thin-profile display panel technologies for both Plasma (PDPs) and LCD HDTVs, achieving further advancements in picture quality and environmental performance. These prototypes will be featured at the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this week.

The newly developed NeoPDP technology has been incorporated into two types of PDPs. The first is a super high-efficiency 42-inch PDP that achieves triple luminance efficiency, while reducing the power consumption to 1/3 of the 2007 models*1 yet achieving the same brightness. The second is an ultra-thin 50-inch PDP just 8.8 mm (approximately 1/3 inch) in profile. This ultra-thin panel delivers the world’s highest moving picture resolution of 1080 lines.

Panasonic’s newly-developed NeoLCD technology is integrated into a super energy-efficient 90kWh per year 37-inch LCD panel, that achieves moving picture resolution*3 of 1000 lines, close to that of a PDP. It has the lowest energy consumption of any LCD HDTV in the world, cutting the energy requirement almost in half compared to the previous model.

With the growth of digital broadcasting services worldwide, the flat-panel TV market has been rapidly increasing and is expected to exceed half of the global TV demand in the fiscal year 2008 ending March 2009. The TV market is expected to continue its growth with the increase of digital broadcasting, the increased popularity of flat panel TVs, continuing need for replacement TVs and increased demand for business, educational and medical applications. As people’s awareness of the need to improve the environment increases, it is vitally important that TVs be designed with their impact on the environment in mind.

Panasonic’s newly developed technologies have achieved the world’s highest level picture quality as well as exceptional environmental performance through energy conservation and thin panel design in both PDPs and LCDs. Panasonic names these technological developments “NeoPDPeco” and “NeoLCDeco”. By taking advantage of the vertically integrated business model for PDPs and LCDs, Panasonic continues to accelerate its technology development, according to characteristics of each device, in order to facilitate the continuing evolution of flat-panel VIERA TVs and to respond to the ever-diversifying needs of its global customers.

Panasonic launches its new line of VIERA X1 LCD televisions which feature a fully-integrated iPod entertainment kit

Panasonic has introduced its new line of VIERA X1 LCD televisions which feature a fully-integrated iPod entertainment kit. These flat panel televisions will be available in four different screen sizes: The new for 2009 19-inch class (19” measured diagonally) TC-L19X1, TC-L26X1 26-inch class (26” measured diagonally), TC-L32X1 32-inch class (31.5” measured diagonally) and the TC-L37X1 37-inch class (37” measured diagonally). Each television includes a specially designed external Universal Dock for iPod which allows consumers to enjoy iPod-based music, videos and photos on a larger screen for a more impactful viewing experience. And unlike most other iPod connectivity options, the VIERA X1 and Panasonic’s VIERA Link™ technology provide special interface capabilities that let the consumers manage content playback through intuitive on-screen display using only the VIERA’s remote control.

panasonic x1 series hdtv

When the iPod is docked on a VIERA X1 Series HDTV, users simply select the “VIERA Tools” button on the remote control to pull up the iPod icon. Once the iPod icon is selected, users can select from a drop down menu displaying their music, videos or podcast options. The VIERA on-screen music menu mimics the iPod, allowing users to select a song from an artist, album or playlist. Similarly, the video and podcast features provide a list of available videos or podcasts.

“Panasonic incorporated the iPod function into the X1 Series as an extension of our commitment to provide the consumer with the ultimate entertainment experience,” said Bob Perry, Executive Vice President, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company. “From Panasonic’s standard television components such as the VIERA Image Viewer™ with SD Memory Card slot and Game Mode to our more distinctive features such as our internet-enabled VIERA CAST™ feature and the new iPod functions, Panasonic continues to provide its customers with the latest technological advances to enable all parts of a home entertainment system to seamlessly work together and create a connected home.”

In addition to the iPod Entertainment Kit, Panasonic’s new VIERA X1 Series LCD TVs are equipped with a full suite of HD entertainment features. The television includes VIERA Image Viewer™ with an SD Memory Card slot for sharing photos with friends and family, a PC input and Game Mode. The X1 series also includes three HDMI inputs* which can be controlled by the VIERA Link button on the remote control. All X1 LCD televisions are high definition with 720p resolution, a contrast ratio of 12,000:1.

As expected, no pricing or availability details have been provided for the time being, but chances are that the devices from the VIERA X1 series will arrive in stores over the first half of 2009.

Panasonic introduces its flagship 1080p one-inch thin Z1 Plasma series, Wireless NeoPDP HDTV

Panasonic has introduced its flagship1080p one-inch thin Z1 Plasma series. The NeoPDP HDTV features, in addition to the one-inch design and separate tuner box configuration, Wireless HD technology to deliver the ultimate in sleek, uncluttered panel cabling setup and an expansion of last year’s innovative internet enabled VIERA Cast functionality, that now incorporates Amazon’s Video-on-Demand service. The Z1 series will be available in the summer of 2009 in the new 54-inch class (54”measured diagonally) TC-P54Z1.

WirelessHD technology can transmit full HD video signals, and audio and control signals wirelessly. This wireless transmission system was developed by Panasonic in collaboration with SiBEAM Inc. It can transmit uncompressed 1080p full HD content wirelessly with no deterioration in quality by using 60GHz millimeter wave radio. The picture on the screen goes undisturbed even when people interrupt the wireless communication path, and overcomes the highly directional nature of millimeter wave radio. This is achieved by incorporating beam steering technology. The Z1 will be certified with the WirelessHD Compliance Test, which meets the standard, procedures and equipment specifications established by the WirelessHD Promoters to assist Adopters in verifying WirelessHD product compliance. Also, VIERA Link functionality is available via this wireless connection, allowing users to control all interconnected, compatible components using only the TV’s remote control.

The NeoPDP VIERA Z1 produces a brighter picture, deeper blacks, improved native contrast ratio (40,000:1) and 1080 TV lines of moving picture resolution. VIERA CAST was introduced in 2008 to critical acclaim, and for 2009 it has been extended to three VIERA model series. The addition of Amazon’s VOD service on VIERA CAST allows the consumer to stream video from Amazon’s extensive library. The Z1 model features 1080p resolution; is a THX® Certified Display; Infinite Black contrast; 600Hz Sub-field Drive; the VIERA Image Viewer™ function that can play back both digital still images and H.264 HD video recorded on an SD Memory Card, and VIERA Link, a technology that allows the user to operate all of their compatible home entertainment components with a single remote.

“The Z1 series continues Panasonic’s commitment to technological advances that are geared to provide the consumer with the best possible entertainment experience and value,” said Bob Perry, Executive Vice President, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company. “At Panasonic we have always prided ourselves on listening to our customers and wireless connectivity is a technology that constantly rated high on the consumer’s wish list. With that in mind and the recognition that design now plays a vital role in the development of television, our engineers developed the Z1 with its beautiful one-inch design and wireless capability.”

TV makers give Central Europe high ratings

Lately, Central Europe—specifically, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia—is becoming a leading producer of liquid crystal display (LCD) and plasma TV sets. Around 29 million sets are to be produced within the region in 2008, and 13 million of those will come from the Czech Republic.

The most famous producers of TV sets in Central Europe are Japan-based Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. (makers of Panasonic), Sony Corporation, and Hitachi; South Korea-based Samsung Group and LG Group; Taiwan-based Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (the parent company of the Foxconn group); and Netherlands-based Royal Philips Electronics.

Most of the sets produced here are, according to numbers provided by U.S.-based market research company DisplaySearch, designed for export. DisplaySearch stated that 28.95 million TV sets will be produced in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia together next year, but the demand for such products will barely reach 12 million in all of Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and Turkey combined. According to estimates, TV set production in Central Europe will rise by 6 million units, to 35 million, by 2011. This increase is influenced by the plans of TV producers, like Sony and Foxconn. This month, Sony finished moving its production from Slovak city Trnava to another city in the country, Nitra, and announced that 3 million TV sets will be produced there by the end of 2008. But the Czech News Agency (ČTK) reported that the production capacity of Slovak branch of Sony—Sony Slovakia—should increase to 5 million a year. The factory in Nitra will produce LCD televisions and plans to employ around 3,000 people, according to company information.

“All international producers are here”

In the Czech Republic, Foxconn, which produces mainly personal computer components in the Czech Republic, is investing Kč 3.1 billion (¬ 122 million) into a new plant in Kutná Hora, Central Bohemia, that will concentrate on TV set production. It should start its operation in June 2008 and will employ 5,000 people. Foxconn will double the number of its employees with the opening of the new plant. The company had net income of Kč 665 million in 2006. In 2000, in Hranice, North Moravia, Royal Philips Electronics announced its plan to construct a plant for TV sets production. The plant was a joint project of Philips and LG Electronics, another manufacturer of electronic devices. However, in 2006, the mother company for the plant based in the Netherlands—LG Philips Displays Holding—went bankrupt, and the plant was renamed Multidisplay. “CTP Invest bought the Hranice plant in February 2007 for € 40 million from the trustee of the bankrupt mother company, LG Philips Display Holding,” Jiří Hořcica, consultant at PR agency Bison & Rose public relations and spokesman for Multidisplay, said. The plant terminated production of cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions and was reoriented to manufacturing LCDs. By the end of 2008, it will employ 520 people, and the amount of the investment into the plant has reached Kč 7 billion, according to their Web site. Other producers present in the Czech Republic are Panasonic AVC Networks Czech, Hitachi Europe Limited, IPS Alpha Technology Europe, and Changhong Europe Electric. Panasonic opened its plant in Plzeň, West Bohemia, in 1996, and began producing CRT televisions. But in 2004, due to a lack of interest in those kinds of TVs, it began producing LCD and plasma TVs instead. In 2007, Panasonic’s Czech branch increased its turnover by Kč 2.7 billion to Kč 46 billion. Hitachi started operation of its plant in 2007, investing Kč 2.5 billion and employing 2,000 people. The plant, located in the Žatec industrial zone, North Bohemia, aims to produce 180,000 TVs a month. In Slovakia, Sony is not the only TV set producer. In Galanta, another international player is present—Samsung. This plant makes more than 4 million LCD or plasma sets a year, according to Katarína Holecová, spokeswoman for Samsung Electronics Slovakia. “By the end of 2007, the total amount of investments [Samsung will make in Slovakia] will have reached € 183 million. Besides TVs, we produce PC monitors, DVD recorders, MP3 players,” she told CBW. Samsung’s Slovak plant is its biggest in Europe, according to Holecová, but it also has a production line for television sets in Hungary, run by Samsung Electronics Magyar. Other Central European countries are also important in the TV manufacturing industry. Royal Philips Electronics produces TVs in Hungary, and a number of companies have plants in Poland. “All international producers are here. When it comes to their plants, LG Electronics [Polska] is in Mława and Kobierzyce, and Sharp [Corporation] in Łysomice,” said Anna Pełka, a reporter at that Polish Press Agency (PAP).

CRT TVs have lost Europe

While demand for LCD and plasma television sets is rising, demand for CRT sets will fall rapidly, according to DisplaySearch numbers. In 2007, more than 6.3 million CRT sets were sold in Eastern Europe, but in 2012 the demand is estimated to almost reach 1.7 million. This had a hard impact on sole CRT TV producers. “CRT manufacturing is very capital intensive and the production lines are specialized for specific sizes. As LCD prices fell, CRT makers went bankrupt,” Paul Gray, director of Europe TV research department at DisplaySearch, told CBW, adding that the production moved to Eastern Asia, mainly to China. This affects the price of CRT sets because, for example, a 28-inch CRT television is large, therefore it is not very economical to ship it to Europe. Shipping costs then play a significant role in price of those sets, Gray explained. “Small sets are still just profitable, but this will not last. There are now component shortages of glass screens for making CRTs even in China, as their supply chain shrinks as producers go bankrupt,” he added.

For example, Samsung’s Slovak branch has also experimented with CRTs, but quickly gave up its production. “We produced CRTs in 2003 and 2004 but due to the changing needs of the market and the introduction of new technologies, we gave up on [CRT] production in 2004,” Holecová said.

CE region just the best for LCD and plasma

From the number of international producers of electronics present in the CE region it can be easily guessed that there are some advantages that draw producers here. The reasons could be divided into three categories: logistics, labor force and taxation. “The geographical placement of the Czech Republic is very advantageous from logistics point of view. The transportation infrastructure is developing here,” said Tomáš Bartovský, spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Trade. “While moving production farther east would get lower labor costs, transport would be much higher,” Gray explained as the second reason for placing the production here. “It is still true that labor costs are still preferable,” Bartovský said, adding that at the time producers were deciding where to locate their plants, the labor supply in the Czech Republic was still high, contrary to the current situation.

In Slovakia, another aspect plays a role, namely, the country’s taxation rates. “When choosing a country, each multinational company takes into account more factors, like the availability of the labor force, logistics and infrastructure, and the financial aspects of returnability of the investment. In 2002 [when Samsung decided on placing its production line in Slovakia], Slovakia fulfilled all of those criteria among Central European countries,” Holecová explained as to why Samsung chose Slovakia. Her words could be applied across the region regarding the number of companies coming here. Alexandra Rudyšarová, the head of CzechInvest, the Czech governmental agency concentrating on bringing foreign investors to the Czech Republic, said that in last three years some five companies from the TV production sector have come to the Czech Republic.