The wide-ranging collaboration and cooperation announced Tuesday is the first step of a series of planned moves that will eventually have Canon take control of Hitachi Displays and Panasonic take control of IPS Alpha Technology, the three companies said.
In addition to the LCD alliance, Canon and Hitachi plan to work together on development of OLED (organic light emitting diode) displays. OLED is a fundamentally different technology from LCD and PDP and has been under development by many display makers for several years. It's viewed by some as a potential replacement for LCD technology because it provides a brighter and richer picture but a lot of work remains before it can be produced in sufficient volume and at a low enough price to compete with LCD.
The world's first commercial OLED TV recently went on sale in Japan. Sony's XEL-1 has an 11-inch screen and is just 3-millimeters thick - another advantage of OLED because a backlight unit isn't required - but comes with an equally impressive ¥200,000 (£885; US$1,750) price tag.
Last week Toshiba and Sharp announced plans to work together in the flat-panel display business. Toshiba will buy from Sharp screens for its 32-inch and larger TV sets while Sharp will buy from Toshiba the chips used in its TVs. The cooperation will begin from April next year and will slowly build towards 2010 when two goals are expected to be reached: Sharp will supply Toshiba with 40 percent of its LCD modules and Toshiba will sell to Sharp 50 percent of the chips it needs, they said.
Sony and Samsung Electronics have been cooperating in LCD panel production for sometime and jointly own S-LCD, a manufacturer of cutting-edge LCD panels based in South Korea.