Plasma TVs are officially dead as LG is the last major company to end production

Lynsey Barber
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OLED displays replace plasma screen TVs (Source: LG)

LG is the latest, and last, major electronics maker to end production of the screen which was once the height of super-size TV technology - the plasma screen.

This time last year LG, Samsung and Panasonic were the only major manufacturers still in the plasma market after seventeen years.

Panasonic earlier this year stopped making plasmas and Samsung then announced in July it was ending production of its plasma screen TVs, as a result of steady declines in demand, in part from competition from thinner and cheaper LCD TVs.

It followed declining sales since their noughties heyday, when stars on MTV’s Cribs bragged about the size of their plasmas, heralding the flat screen era.

Now, finally, LG is to put the technology to rest, as all three pursue new OLED, UHD and 4K technology - said to be the next big thing - and sending the plasma TV to the same gadget grave as the Walkman, minidisc player, and VHS.

However, a decline in demand is not just hitting plasma screens. TV sales overall have fallen consecutively since 2011.

TV makers are looking towards OLED, UHD and 4K to create even thinner and better screens that excite consumers again, but they may not be quite the saviour- and plasma replacement- they are looking for. Panasonic also escaped the fledgling OLED market in May this year, despite previous protestations that it was fully committed to the technology.

Both Samsung and LG are still on board with OLED, but have revised their projections for when sets will become affordably mainstream to 2017. Sony hived off its TV business into a separate entity earlier this year, though it says it’s still committed to production of 4K TVs.

IHS has reported a good start to the year, with global TV shipments up in the first quarter, but others warn that it’s in no way a trend for resurrection in TV sales.

Rethink research points to the drop in plasma sales inflating LCD, as well as an over-supply of sets from the expected World Cup demand. It notes:

“People with long memories will know that in 2010, just after the World Cup, there was a dramatic over-supply in the retail channel for flat TVs, which led to a disastrous third quarter, as retailers cleared the channel. Expect that again this year.”

TV makers are discovering TV technology is no longer the biggest thing in consumer electronics. The next big thing is in the palm of your hand rather than in front of your sofa these days - and anyone still in the business of making TVs is feeling that.

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