TOKYO Full-high-definition TVs could have accounted for as much as 60 percent of Sharp Corp.'s large TV sales in Japan during 2005 if the company had been able to meet surging demand, according to Takashi Okuda, group general manager of Sharp Audio-Visual Systems Group.
Okuda said during the unveiling of new TV models here that full-HD (1,920 x 1,080) TVs had accounted for 40 percent of domestic sales in 2005. Eight full-HD models were introduced at the meeting.
"The market is strongly demanding full-specification HD TVs," Okuda said, adding that by the end of this year, Sharp will offer LCD TVs with full-HD-resolution panels of more than 37 inches for the Japanese market. Overseas rollouts of the 37-inch models will follow shortly thereafter. Sharp's strategy will include a campaign focusing on the difference between LCD and plasma display panel TVs.
Sharp intends to establish a production capacity of 20 million 32-inch LCD panels a year by 2008. "That would equate to a 10 percent share of the 200 million-unit world market we're predicting for 2008," said Okuda. "In the TV market, a 10 percent stake is a big share and a challenge."
Worldwide, however, market demand is rapidly shifting to LCD screens larger than 32 inches. While TVs with 32-inch panels accounted for the bulk of sales in Japan last year, 37-inch models are expected to claim the volume title in 2006, Okuda said. TVs with 32-inch panels still dominate sales in Europe, but momentum in that market is likewise expected to transition this year to 37-inch models. In the United States, meanwhile, 40- to 50-inch screens are rising in popularity as prices fall. "Panels are in short supply, especially for overseas markets," said Okuda.
Increasing the panel size produced on a line, of course, decreases the yield if capacity is not increased accordingly. The 200 million-unit market Sharp predicts for 2008 is nearly halved when counted by 40-inch rather than 32-inch panels. To cope with the expected demand for larger panels, Sharp is considering establishing another fab in Japan.
The company is also negotiating with a Taiwanese LCD panel manufacturer for supply of 26-inch and smaller panels. Sharp expects to close that deal by March.