OLED to come under attack from rival tech in late ’09

By Chris Nicholls

TOKYO: OLED faces a renewed attack from rival technology Field Emission Displays (FED), after Sony spin-off Field Emission Technologies (FET) confirmed it will purchase Pioneer’s plasma factory next year.

Speaking to Current.com.au, a FET spokesperson said, “We will purchase the factory, but at this point in time, we are still in discussions with Pioneer as to the method of purchase”.

He said whether the company would pay cash or use other means was still unclear.

FED technology, which uses carbon nanotubes to fire electrons at individual phosphor pixels, is purported to deliver better pictures, with unsurpassable motion smoothness, than either plasma or LCD, and for less power. It can be made up to 3 mm thin.

It is regarded at the originator of the aborted SED technology once raised by Canon and Toshiba.

According to the spokesperson, initial production will start at the end of 2009, and will be limited to 10,000 units in the first year, all of them business-focused monitors for use in applications like TV station master monitors and medical scanning equipment.

However, while he did not give a date, the spokesperson said FET would eventually move into televisions.

“We will make televisions in the future, but if we jump straight into TVs, we will need a huge amount of money and a large production run. At this stage, we’re looking at production runs of 10,000 units in our first year for a 26-inch size.”

The spokesperson said sizes could start from 17-inches, though.

“When we move into production runs in the tens of thousands, we will use a second line, and if, for example, we decide to make panels in the 40 or 50-inch sizes, we will focus on technology to cut more panels from the one piece of motherglass,” he said.

As a panel manufacturer, not a TV brand in its own right, FET will badge televisions with customers’ names.

“The brand they will be sold under is still up in the air, but we are a panel maker, so … we will not make the final sets. Companies who wish to put their names to one of our panels will simply become one of our clients,” he said.

Despite the potential for conflict of interest between OLED and FED, thanks to Sony’s 37 per cent shareholding, the spokesperson said Sony would likely reduce its shareholding gradually.

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