Sony and Panasonic announced today that the two companies will jointly develop technologies for OLED TV panels mass production. According to the release, they will develop printing based technology, which will enable low-cost mass production. They plan to establish the technology during 2013, by integrating their unique technologies.
Sony and Panasonic will also "study" collaboration of OLED mass production. The current plan is for each company to develop and commercialize its own OLED panels, but it's possible that they will also jointly produce the panels in the future.
So - this settles that. After hearing rumors about possible Sony-AUO, Sony-LG, Sony-Samsung and Sony-Panasonic tie-ups, it turns out that Sony chose Panasonic - at least for manufacturing technology development. Back in January 2012 it was reported that Sony officially quit the OLED TV business, which isn't a surprise as Sony's only OLED TV ever, the XEL-1 was discontinued back in February 2010. Sony is currently focused on OLED panels for professional monitors (such as the 24.5" BVM-F250 broadcasting monitor), but back in April Sony's new CEO announced it plans to make major investment into OLED TVs - and now they take the first step...
Panasonic already said last month that they are looking for a partner for OLED TV development. Back in 2009, Panasonic teamed up with Sumitomo to jointly-develop OLED TVs, based on Sumitomo's P-OLED materials and technology. I don't think this partnership is still active, and it's more likely that Panasonic and Sony will opt for small-molecule OLEDs. Still, Sumitomo is building a large P-OLED material factory aiming for OLED TV applications, so you never know. Earlier this year we heard that Panasonic decided to establish a Gen-6 OLED TV pilot production line in their Himeji LCD plant. The investment will total around ¥20-30 billion ($245-370 million).
Interestingly, the new press release also states that Panasonic is developing flexible OLEDs with an aim to "develop large-sized, high quality sheet-type displays". Sony also has an active flexible OLED program, it'll be great to see those two companies collaborate on flexible OLEDs.