Late last week it was sadly announced by Matsushita that they are closing their CRT operations in both North America and Europe. This follows on the heels of several other major companies closing their CRT operations like Thomson, Magnavox, Philips, Hitachi, et al. The heydays of CRT manufacture and production in North America is essentially a memory now. I remember years ago visiting all of the major CRT facilities from RCA, Hitachi, Sony, Toshiba, Philps/Maganvox, and so on. It was an exciting time to see those behemoths come lumbering down the assembly line. Let's face it, people still like their trusty old CRT even though it's headed for the Smithsonian. CRT sales will top 17.0 million units this year. Although, as more and more CRT production closes in the U.S., it is now done off-shore. Of course, it should be noted that Sony still manufacturers CRTs in Pittsburgh, PA. Although, several lines were converted to SXRD production in late Summer, and are now in full swing. As you know, SXRD is Sony's current answer to 1080p displays.
As I recently wrote about in one of my Blogs, the world really is becoming flat as LCD and Plasma TVs continue to permeate and takeover retail. People love flat, and it certainly fulfills the dreams of H.G. Wells' in his "Shape of Things to Come" with hang-on-the-wall televisions. Flat is the shape of tomorrow. The question is, "does flat just have to be LCD and plasma displays?" I think the answer to that is a resounding NO! Even with Micro-Displays, they present the illusion of flat, and utilize specialized chips and optics to simulate the performance of a CRT display. And this doesn't even take into account other new technologies like SED and OLED that looks to replace or upstage other flat-panel displays like LCD and plasma.
Although, I guess it seems that OLED isn't for everyone. Pioneer, who originally was a major proponent for OLED technology, has now abandoned plans to further pursue OLED research. Odd. Now, for them, the question arises, "Can they really put all of their displays in one basket?" Seems risky to me. Prices for plasmas are dropping very quickly, which means that profits are narrowing even quicker. Yes, Pioneer is moving their plasmas to 1080p next year with the first 50-in. + model to be shipped in 2006. However, they won't be alone. Surprisingly, Hitachi just announced that they have succeeded in producing a 42-in. 1920x1080p panel for presumed shipment in 2006. Other plasma makers will have 1080p displays as well. Where does this leave Pioneer?
Lastly, we are in the doldrums of December. Every year at this time, the majority of manufacturers are reluctant to make any noteworthy product announcements as they await CES next month. They are also focused on family and the upcoming Holidays, and can't really think about new products. I can't blame them. The New Year is just a few weeks away! On the other hand, some manufacturers like Panasonic, LG, and Thomson continue to make news as these are world leaders in Consumer Electronics. Other semiconductor companies like LSI Logic, Conexant, Micronas, Qosmetrics, and Video Without Boundaries are continuing to product news with interesting and innovative products. This is what makes covering Digital TV so interesting! Stay tuned.