Sony halts OLED TV development in favour of 4K LCDs

In response to the growing demand for 4K screens and its still-fledgling television business, Sony has allegedly stopped commercial development on OLED sets.

Japanese business news publisher Nikkei has reported that Sony put its OLED sets "on ice" and plans to reassign people involved in that department to other tasks such as the development of 4K-related products. The Japanese company apparently doesn't think speedy, high-contrast displays will match the global popularity of 4K sets. It therefore wants to focus on pushing 4K LCDs to consumers.

While this news is surprising, it follows the abrupt end of a Panasonic collaboration late last year. Many reports and industry insiders have also wondered if Sony is having trouble keeping up with rivals, such as LG an Samsung, especially since its television business has lost $7.8 billion over a decade. The company is likely now exploring different means of generating revenue, and it is placing all bets on 4K LCDs.

It's worth noting that hit-and-miss site DigiTimes also claimed in December that Sony was giving OLED to focus on 4K screens. Sony was one of the first companies to make OLED screens, with its 11-inch Sony XEL-1 that costed £1,300. That's always been the problem - price. And even now OLEDs aren't really affordable: a Sony 4K TV will set you back £5,400, but a 55-inch OLED costs a whopping £8,000.

READ: Sony and Panasonic to abandon OLED in favour of 4K?

Nikkei noted Sony is an industry-leader when it comes to the 4K television global market. The company held 20 per cent of the value of all shipments in 2013. That means 4K sets could actually help Sony's television business grow for the first time in years. In fact, Sony plans to release eight 4K models in the coming months to capatlise on its recent success and boost sales for the fiscal year.

The new 4K models will constitute roughly half of Sony's total flat-panel lineup in 2014. That's a dramatic increase compared to the 10 to 20 per cent ratio from the year prior.