The CEO of Sony said that the company will boost investment in its PlayStation and camera sensors business over the next three years.
But Kazuo Hirai said today that it may well exit the smartphone business and divest itself of its TV unit too.
Sony has already got out of PCs and is engaged in restructuring which have seen thousands of people made redundant.
Hirai told reporters in a briefing that his goal was to make Sony profitable – it expects to turn in an operating loss for its financial year, which ends on the 31st of March.
Earlier this week, Sony released its intelligent glasses – which have no guarantee of making returns following Google’s decision to go back to basics on its own version of the devices.
Video games, camera sensors and entertainment are all areas which are profitable, but Hirai is tacitly saying that Sony isn’t the giant it once was, when whatever it launched set the scene for others to follow.
It’s little surprise that Sony is getting out of smartphones. Samsung and Apple rule the roost but manufacturers in mainland China are selling smartphones at knock down prices with razor thin margins – that’s already had an effect on Samsung’s profits.
Where once the
global flat panel industry focused on unit growth, it appears that it is now taking a bigger interest in area demand.
Market intelligence company IHS said that last year, display panel shipments grew to 168.9 million square metres.
That’s up by nine percent compared to the year before, and will grow at five percent CAGR to reach 223.6 million square metres in 2020.
Bigger is now better, according to Yoshio Tamura, director of research for IHS. “There were four major driving forces,,, consumer demand for larger LCD TVs, soaring demand for five inch and larger smartphones, larger automotive display screens, and larger tablet PCs.”
Major players in the PC business including Apple, HP, Lenovo, Acer and Asus have launched notebooks with larger screens.
Smartphones, particularly in the Chinese market and developing market, are fuelling demand for bigger screen sizes.
While times were slack for LCD TVs during 2013, the market swung sharply upwards in 2014 and times ahead look rosy too.
That’s the prediction market research company Displaysearch makes, saying that total units shot up by 10 percent in the third quarter of 2014. It estimates that total shipmets for 2014 will amount to 223 million units, a rise of seven percent over the year before.
Sales were particularly strong in North America and Asia Pacific, according to senior research analyst Paul Gagnon. He said growth was fuelled by people replacing older flat panel TVs while in Asia many had moved away from CRT (cathode ray tube) TVs to LCD TVs.
Larger screen sizes apears to be the name of the game, as vendors seek to encourage people to upgrade. And there’s increasingly strong demand for 4K LCD units – Displaysearch estimates that the market for these will grow by over 50 percent in 2015, amounting to 32 million units.
But there’s a warning to manufacturers too – Gagnon said that they have to be careful they don’t end up with too much stock during the first quarter of this year.
That might be bad news for them, but it’s likely to make the price of units cheaper for the common man and woman if there is an overstock crisis.
Shipments of TVs worldwide rose in the third quarter by four percent, bucking a trend that showed several previous quarters of weak growth.
LCD TV shipments rose by nine percent, according to IHS subsidiary Displaysearch, fuelled by uptake of TV screens in North America.
Plasma and CRT shipments continue to steadily decline.
China showed strong shipments, showing a nine percent growth in the quarter. That sector had been weakened a year ago after the central government withdrew subsidies.
Displaysearch analyst Paul Gagnon said the last few years were “difficult” for shipments and revenues but there is more resiliency now. He said that in some regions there is a renewed replacement cycle, while larger screen sizes and 4K and better resolutions continue to tempt people to upgrade.
Here are the main 4K shipment leaders by brand.
A report said that while shipments of TFT LCD panels will hit 675 milllion units in 2014, overall figures show a decline from the year before.
According to Digitimes Research, LCD TV panel shipments will only grow by 0.6 percent and there will be a glut of large panels over the winter.
As well as that, the research claims that monitor and notebook panels will decline in 2014.
But Ultra HD TV panels will grow by over 400 percent in 2014, hitting shipments of 15.3 million units.