Sony accuses Panasonic of misleading retailers and consumers

By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Sony Australia has published an open letter attacking the credibility of Panasonic’s plasma marketing campaign which claims that plasma is a superior technology for large-screen flat panel TVs.

Sony – which it should be noted supports LCD technology exclusively and no longer markets plasma TVs in Australia – has taken issue with claims made in Panasonic’s recent marketing campaign featuring Australian Olympic sprinter, Matt Shirvington, in which it quotes market research conducted by Synovate which suggests consumers prefer plasma.

Sony Australia managing director, Carl Rose, today released this statement, printed in full below…

“Open Letter from Sony Australia to Australian electronics retailers.

“Sony Australia is very concerned about the latest research from Panasonic and Synovate. We believe that it is fostering misleading information for both customers and retail floorstaff. It is our firm belief that rather than dispelling myths as it purports, the Panasonic campaign is actually confusing the market. 

“The Synovate study that Panasonic bases its campaign on was conducted in conditions inherently favourable to plasma rather than in the real conditions that Australians watch TV.  According to the research itself, 86% of the research group, albeit small, said that they watch TV in rooms with indirect light or with the main lighting source on. It is important that consumers and floorstaff know that the comparison test was conducted in 50lux conditions which most people would likely describe as a dimly lit room – an environment which is unlikely to match the viewing habits of the majority of Australians.

“It is also important for floorstaff to understand that burn-in is a real issue for plasma, it’s not ‘highly rare’ as described.  There are many real-world conditions such as gaming, icons from muting or pausing external devices,  watching 4:3 images on 16:9 screens or connecting a PC that can easily cause burn-in. That’s the fact and is why it is not unusual for plasma manufacturers to include burn in disclaimers within warranty conditions.

“In addition, response times for LCD are not the cause of blur as represented in the research. Our Bravia LCD TV models have response times of just eight milliseconds. TV signals are actually broadcast in Australia at 50hz, or one image every 0.02 seconds. Bravia LCD is 2.5x faster than a broadcast image. So any perceived blur is generally caused by frame rate of the broadcast and not the response time of the panel. Any ‘LCD motion blur’ simulated in the current Panasonic marketing campaign featuring Matt Shirvington are clearly simulated, but consumers are not informed of the fact that this is a simulation. That’s clearly a misleading situation. Anyone watching AFL on Network TEN in Full 1080 HD will attest to it looking absolutely stunning, and the feedback that we are receiving from consumers is confirming this fact.

“Importantly, LCD is not just a small screen technology, it’s actually more popular than plasma technology in key screen sizes greater than 32”. GfK sales figures show that LCD is clearly dominating the highly popular 40”/42” sector (720+ resolution) with 63% of unit sales and 66% of the value of the 40”/42” market is LCD and not plasma technology.  Australians are choosing LCD in the most popular sizes and that’s a fact. 

“Full HD is the future of the market in Australia and LCD screens give Full 1080 High Definition screen resolution to consumers at competitive prices. This is simply not the case with plasma.

“To conclude, I’m all in favour of marketing that drives consumers to the stores of our retail partners because it supports and benefits the industry. When advertising makes claims that create doubt in the minds of consumers and floorstaff, this, in my view, is detrimental to the entire industry. Consumers should be entering the stores with their eyes open to the facts.  Vendors should focus on the features and benefits of their own products and technologies rather than introducing misleading research that confuses the market and ultimately makes selling harder.”

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