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4K TVs could power revival of Japanese manufacturing

Publication Date : 07-02-2014

 

Market competition over so-called 4K ultrahigh-resolution TVs has grown fierce.

We hope Japanese manufacturers, with their technological prowess, will lead this growth market and make it a driving force for the recovery of their TV businesses.

The main feature of 4K TVs is their greater number of pixels, which influence the brightness and clarity of images. 4K TVs have as many as about 8 million pixels, four times more than full high-vision TVs.

The 4K models that Japanese makers began marketing two to three years ago were mainly large models measuring nearly 80 inches, costing as much as about 1 million yen (US$9,900). As a result, 4K TVs remained far from popular, with global shipments in 2012 below 10,000 units.

However, the atmosphere has changed markedly as manufacturers dubbed 2014 the “first year of 4K TVs” and put out new models to fully promote 4K TVs. Their offensive stance has become ever more apparent.

Sony Corp. will expand its 4K TV lineup from five models last year to nine this year, ranging from 49-inch to 85-inch TVs. Panasonic Corp., Sharp Corp. and Toshiba Corp. have also put their latest models on the market.

There are expectations within the TV industry that 4K models will account for more than 40 per cent of 50-inch and larger models in fiscal 2015. The development of new models that are smaller and more reasonably priced will boost promotion of 4K TVs.

Futuristic technology

Sony will shortly put on the US market a small, lightweight 4K video camera for home use. Panasonic has announced a small video camera capable of recording 4K ultrahigh-resolution images as a wearable terminal.

Wearable terminals are expected to record sharp growth among next-generation home appliances. If highly innovative mobile devices featuring 4K ultrahigh-resolution and wearable technology hit the market one after another, the home appliance market is certain to be invigorated further.

South Korean rival Samsung Electronics Co. and Chinese rivals have also announced new models, including 4K models. Even though Japanese makers currently lead the 4K market, they need to be on the alert for a war of attrition in which price-cutting competition will intensify.

Japanese makers were overtaken by their South Korean rivals in the sales battle over flat-panel TVs, the primary factor that sent their TV businesses into the red. They should avoid allowing that to happen again.

How can they retain their technological superiority and develop such products in anticipation of consumers’ needs, while at the same time enhancing their production efficiency? Japanese manufacturers must apply all their brainpower to win out in the international rivalry.

To promote 4K TVs in this country, it is essential to improve the related software, including TV programs that utilise ultrahigh-resolution images.

Test broadcasting compatible with 4K ultrahigh-resolution is expected to start within the year, but there is a shortage of visual content. TV makers and broadcasting stations need to cooperate to create programs and image software appealing to consumers.

There is a wide range of supporting industries for the home appliances sector. If Japanese home appliance makers can take the lead in this growth market by wielding their competitiveness, it will also help rejuvenate the Japanese economy.

 

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