Sony is one of the largest electronics makers in the world. The company is big in gaming, TVs, and computers among other categories and is working hard to bring next generation devices to market. Sony bet big on OLED screens for TVs and was the first to bring an OLED set to market with its 11-inch XEL-1 OLED TV which debuted in late 2007. The XEL-1 was undeniably sexy, but it was small and had a price equating to about $1,744 USD when it debuted in Japan. Sony announced in November of 2007 that it would be bringing the XEL-1 to America. In early 2008, Sony announced that it was spending $200 billion on OLED manufacturing technology. Today the OLED screens used in TVs are hard to mass produce and have high defective rates making them expensive to produce. Sony also now has competition in the OLED TV market from rival electronics firms. Sony announced this week that it is pulling the plug on its OLED TV in Japan. Sony cites sluggish demand as the main reason for stopping sales reports Reuters. Sony does plan to continue selling the XEL-1 in America and Europe. OLED TVs promise significant improvements over LCD sets for users with less power consumption, thinner screens, and better image quality. The problem is that the screens are difficult to make and expensive to produce. DisplaySearch analyst Hisakazu Torii said, "As flat panel TVs are getting bigger and cheaper, hurdles for OLED models have become higher, at least in the short term." Sony will continue to sell the XEL-1 in Japan until its current supply runs out. A Sony spokesman said that the company intends to continue to consider new products and applications for OLED screens. Estimates have Sony selling only 2,000 OLED TVs in all of 2009.
The Financial Times reports that the reason Sony is removing the OLED set from the Japanese market is a regulatory change that meant the TV would have to be redesigned and with the low demand it wasn't feasible for Sony.