Sony and Panasonic Join Forces on Optical Discs and OLED

Sony and Panasonic announced yesterday an agreement to team up on developing standards for a next-generation optical disc that can hold more than 300 gigabytes of data (six times the capacity of Blu-ray discs). The companies are hoping to develop the new storage medium by 2015. Once fierce rivals, the two electronics leaders also recently unveiled plans to work together on mass production technology for organic light-emitting diode displays.

“The growth of streaming and on-demand download of media has caused a slow and steady decline for the demand of physical media such as compact discs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs, but the two Japanese electronics giants see potential for the discs in large-scale archiving of video,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “As picture quality moves from high-definition to ultra-high definition with about four-times the pixel density of HD, the storage requirements for video is expected to surge.”

The plans are focused on optical discs for commercial use. However, the standards and technologies could potentially attract consumers who are interested in physical copies of ultra high-definition movies.

The two companies are also looking to fend off South Korean rivals by introducing new ultrathin TVs and launching a mass production process for OLED panels.

“Sony and Panasonic said they plan to establish a mass production method in 2013 and are still considering whether to collaborate in the actual mass production of OLED panels and modules,” explains WSJ in a related article. “However, both companies said they plan to make their own TV sets regardless of their alliance.”

OLED screens offer better image quality in a thinner frame than liquid crystal displays. The technology also makes curved and flexible screens possible (see picture above). But the industry has yet to create a low-cost method to manufacture OLED displays in large sizes. Sony launched an 11-inch OLED model in 2007. LG and Samsung are planning to introduce 55-inch OLED TVs this year.

“Aware of how the introduction of LCD and plasma-display technology gave birth to a TV-buying boom in the past decade, TV manufacturers are now hoping that OLED can spark a new wave of demand,” suggests the article.

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