By Sarah Falson

JAPAN: Hitachi expects its global flat panel business to remain profitable in 2007, according to the Hitachi flat panel global business strategy report, which was revealed last week.

"Hitachi will continue to grow as a total flat panel solutions manufacturer in 2007 offering a wide range of both Plasma and LCD products, each designed to offer the best possible picture quality for their size and intended application,” Hitachi Australia product specialist – visual, Mark Lawson.

Global market trends show that demand for both LCD and plasma televisions will considerably grow in the next three years, according to a Hitachi worldwide survey, with plasma demand expected to grow 81 per cent and both plasma and LCD flat panel units of sizes 50 inches and over expected to grow in demand by a huge 170 per cent.

“This year, Full HD combined with improvements in panel manufacturing techniques will see outstanding picture quality become available in larger sizes across both technologies,” said Lawson.

“As a result of these exciting advances, consumers will be drawn to the home cinema sizes of 50 inches and above where plasma still offers superior speed and contrast which are essential to a realistic home cinema and sports viewing experience.

“To meet this demand, Hitachi will release a flagship range of Japanese made large screen home cinema plasma TVs that will deliver industry leading picture quality at an accessible price point.”

Globally, Hitachi is working towards a 13 per cent market ownership in plasma and 20 per cent market share of plasma televisions in sizes 50 inches and over, according to the report.

But Hitachi Australia won’t be focusing only on plasma, according to Lawson.

“Whilst we anticipate large screen plasma to be a major growth segment for both Hitachi and the industry in 2007, LCD market volume will continue to increase significantly in the smaller sizes to replace CRT or in larger sizes for applications where multimedia is the focus rather than home cinema,” he said.

“For these customers, Hitachi will be there in force, offering a comprehensive range of LCD solutions from an expanded line-up of sizes and they all will feature integrated high definition tuners."
The company now plans to improve its production efficiency and focus on profit-driven management, including improving its supply chain management and reducing costs. Plans are also in motion to add two more production plants to its current line-up of three plants worldwide, increasing its plasma panel production from 3.6 million to 4 million units per year.