- 29 Sep 2004
Dette har jeg vanskelig for å tro før jeg ser det......pioneer har jo akkurat demonstrert G9-paneler og en rekke prototyper på CES blant annet. De er helt suvere på plasmateknologien, og jeg kan ikke se at bare kan kutte produksjonen sånn uten videre!Esp1 skrev:Display Daily » Blog Archive » March Surprise: Pioneer to End PDP Production
"It was as much of a surprise to most Pioneer employees as it was to us when Asahi Shimbun reported on Tuesday that Pioneer would end plasma panel production, and outsource it to arch-rival Matsushita Electric Industrial Company, the world’s leading manufacturer of plasma display panels (PDPs) and plasma TV sets. (An official announcement made a few days ago said that 42-inch display fabrication only would be outsourced to Matsushita.)
Asahi Shimbun attributed the story to "sources," and our sources tell us that this was an unintended leak from within Pioneer - unintended, at least, by Pioneer’s management - and the source of the leak is still unknown. But the story is true, and Pioneer will make the official announcement today.
As we have said more than once in this space, Pioneer had saddled itself with a can’t-win marketing strategy. Despite a complete lack of confirming evidence, the company had convinced itself that a large number of customers were willing to pay a very high premium for Pioneer’s legitimately superior image quality - a number sufficiently large enough to keep its panel fabs and TV assembly lines running at a profitable rate. We repeatedly asked Pioneer personnel if the company had really done the math, and if a realistic estimate of sales was consistent with the volume needed for profitability on the manufacturing side. We were repeatedly assured that this was the case, but the red ink kept flowing.
One reason for the continued losses is that the sales projections were largely fantasies. Dennis Barker reported in EE Times Online on Tuesday that Pioneer initially planned on sales of 720K units for the fiscal year ending March 31 (FY’07). But the products launched last fall never sold at a rate that could justify that projection, and early this year the company revised its sales estimates sharply downward to 480K. The PDP-TV business is expected to lose more than ¥10B in FY’07, Barker reported. Asahi Shimbun said Pioneer’s entire Home-use Electronics Division, which includes the PDP-TV business, would lose ¥17.5B (US $169B) in FY’07. Even Pioneer’s self-deluding management could no longer hide from this reality.
Pioneer has three PDP fabrication facilities. The Kagoshima facility will be closed, perhaps this year, while the Yamanashi and Shizuoka facilities will be re*****d for TV set assembly, sources said. As reported here previously, Pioneer will also begin making LCD-TVs with small and medium screen diagonals using panels sourced from Sharp.
Analysts have been speculating for some time that Pioneer would either have to sell off or merge its PDP business. Outsourcing panel production has not been part of the speculation because Pioneer uses a proprietary architecture to obtain its remarkably deep black levels. But it appears that Matsushita has developed equipment and processes to make panels to Pioneer’s design and specifications, while still leveraging its huge infrastructure to enable significantly lower production costs than Pioneer could manage.
So, Pioneer gets a better cost structure, which it desperately needs, but the same old questions remain: How much of a premium will the market actually pay for Pioneer’s superior panel technology at the quantities required for profitability, and can Matsushita make panels and can Pioneer make TV sets that fall within that pricing window?
And there is another question. When will Pioneer become a premium brand for Matsushita? At least one of my colleagues here at Insight Media doubts this will happen, but I wonder if Matsushita will simply stand by if lower-priced Pioneer PDP-TVs (with panels made in Matsushita factories) find a viable price-performance niche.