Toshiba Sees a Bright Future for OLEDs

There isn’t a huge market for organic light-emitting diode displays right now, with the new technology only available in some small displays and demo models, but Toshiba is setting out to change that, following in the footsteps of at least one big competitor.
The company said today that it’s buying out a liquid crystal display venture it has with Panasonic (s PC) and plans to refocus the business, called Toshiba Matsushita Display Technology, on OLEDs, which are more energy efficient and thinner than liquid crystal and regular light-emitting diode displays.
Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Toshiba said the transfer of Panasonic’s 40-percent stake will happen on April 28, when it will be renamed Toshiba Mobile Display. Set up in 2002, the venture already has some OLED operations, but mostly makes small- and medium-sized LCDs for cell phones, laptops, in-vehicle displays, and other products.

But the market for liquid crystal displays isn’t doing so well. Toshiba said in today’s statement that demand for the displays is down sharply from last year, and that the prices keep dropping. The venture is already restructuring its LCD business, according to Toshiba, including closing some manufacturing lines. Toshiba Mobile Display will then work to “establish OLEDs as an engine for growth and to enhance its display business in the medium- to long-term.”
Toshiba unveiled a restructuring program in January that includes changes to its LCD operations, and said today that buying Panasonic’s stake in the LCD venture allows Toshiba to speed up that restructuring process. Toshiba plans to cut ¥300 billion ($3 billion) in costs for fiscal 2009.
Image courtesy of Toshiba Matsushita Display Technology.