Two Korean electronics companies are engaged in a fierce battle with a Japanese competitor in the growing market for plasma display panels.
LG Electronics, Samsung SDI and Matsushita Electric have been exchanging the lead in PDP production over the past 12 months, and they have all pledged massive investments to increase their manufacturing volume.
Matsushita overcame LG to become the largest PDP seller in the second quarter of the year, according to a report from market researcher DisplaySearch. The Japanese firm sold 740,000 panels in the three-month period to June, while LG and Samsung sold 716,000 and 560,000 respectively.
Samsung was the No.1 for a year-and-a-half until last fall. Then LG held a brief lead from January to March until Matsushita saw a jump in sales of its Viera-brand PDP TVs.
PDP is a glass panel used in large-screen TVs. In South Korea, PDPs are losing market share to LCDs in the TV market as the latter generally offers a brighter and crisper picture. But it is still a dominant technology outside of Korea where household lighting is generally lower, said Park Si-beom, vice president of LG Electronics? digital media department.
Accordingly, the worldwide PDP market is expected to expand from 12 million units this year to 25 million by 2010, according to DisplaySearch.
LG plans a massive counterattack on Matsushita from this fall.
The company is increasing its production capacity by 50 percent starting autumn and with the completion of its A3-2 line, the company will be able to produce 550,000 panels per month.
In addition, LG is considering building an A3-3 line next year, which will churn out another 180,000 units every month, giving it a 730,000 output in total.
Samsung SDI also is not falling behind _ it is planning to spend 2.5 trillion won by 2010 and if all goes according to plan, the company will ship 880,000 panels per month, or 10 million per year.
Matsushita, the current leader, has a total PDP production capacity of 460,000 units per month, or 5.5 million units per year. As well as PDP modules, it is the market leader for PDP TV sets with a 21-percent market share in the first quarter of 2006, according to DisplaySearch.
From October 2007, its new manufacturing line at Amagasaki will give the company another 170,000 units monthly capacity.
Matsushita is also trying to beat out competitors by introducing top-end TVs. For the first time in the industry, it will offer a full high-definition 103-inch TV that uses a PDP panel measuring about 140 by 240 centimeters.
The company said it will begin receiving orders from September. It expects to sell about 5,000 units in the first year of sales.