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Sony, Panasonic May Partner on OLED TVs

Both firms are seeking something splashy after a tough year, and reports suggest they plan a partnership building OLED TV sets.

Sony and Panasonic, two major yet struggling TV manufacturers, plan to join forces to build televisions using organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology, Bloomberg reports.

The OLED TV partnership may be announced as early as June 27 before the two companies' shareholder meetings, according to company officials who asked not to be identified. The pact would be the first collaboration between the consumer electronic giants' main TV operations.

OLED TVs, which can be as thin as 4 millimeters deep, feature vivid colors, deep blacks, and superior clarity and contrast. Samsung recently announced plans to ship a 55-inch OLED 3D TV in Korea in the second half of 2012. The Samsung set will cost around US$9000, but there's no word yet on when it'll arrive in the States. Another Korean TV manufacturer, LG Electronics, says it will launch a 55-inch OLED TV, priced around $8000, later this year.

Panasonic and Sony are both experiencing financial woes, and it's possible that pricey, high-margin OLED TVs could help bolster the companies' respective bottom lines.  In May, Panasonic announced a US$10 billion loss for the fiscal year that ended March 31. Similarly, Sony reported a US$5.7 billion loss for its  fiscal year through March.

Initially, OLED TVs will be priced exorbitantly, but prices should drop fairly quickly. NPD DisplaySearch predicts that the price of a 55-inch OLED model could plummet roughly 50 percent to around $4000 by the end of 2013, and continue falling to the $1500 range by the end of 2015.

Contact Jeff Bertolucci at Today@PCWorld, Twitter (@jbertolucci) or jbertolucci.blogspot.com, and follow Today@PCWorld on Twitter, too.

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