THE future success of televisions will be dictated by new software rather than arcane arguments over picture quality, Panasonic claims.
Laurent Abadie, the chairman and chief executive of Panasonic Europe, said that Panasonic would focus on providing a platform for TV programmes and films rather than relentlessly emphasising the improving picture quality of the Japanese company’s latest sets.
Although Mr Abadie said that new standards such as ultra-high definition offered new possibilities for TV viewing, he said the success or failure of major brands will be dictated by their ability to persuade users to plug their TV into the internet, and the company’s ability to make content available.
“The key to television will be an open platform. TV as we know it today is an old-fashioned medium. It is over,” said Mr Abadie.
The latest televisions from all the major manufacturers increasingly emphasise that they are ‘smart’ devices, with apps for services such as Netflix and Lovefilm. Netflix, a streaming service, recently unveiled its remake of House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey, which is excusively online. Lovefilm, owned by Amazon, will offer exclusive pilots and the BBC is to expand its programme to put shows online before their main broadcast.
Mr Abadie said that the latest Panasonic televisions feature a new concept called ‘My homescreen”, which use cameras to recognise who is viewing and automatically sign them into a personal profile with automatic recommendations. He also said that when users first plug in a television they will be presented with selections from the internet that mix live television, on-demand content and apps such as Skype and a web browser.
“The consumer benefit is on interactivity,” he said. “We have reached the point where definition is not the main thing.”
Panasonic’s latest televisions are among the first to make the more energy efficient ‘organic light emitting diode’ (OLED) TVs at a price that could be commercially viable. Such sets also offer improved colours and definition, but have previously not been manufactured at a consistent standard. Panasonic’s new ‘printed’ OLED TVs, however, suggest that the technology could be commercialised within a few years. As definition has increased, however, larger sets are required to capitalise on the improved picture quality. Mr Abadie said consumers would increasingly differentiate on the basis of what the set could deliver and what it looked like, rather than buying on the basis of definition and refresh rates.
Although electronic television was introduced in the UK in 1936 and it took until 1967 for colour to be introduced, high definition TV in the UK is already being superceded by new UHDTVs.
Panasonic will also, however, market its smart appliances, such as improved refrigerators, air conditioners and washing machines, as well as launch a new assault on the market for small appliances such as toasters and personal products such as shavers and epilators. The company, which has made heavy losses, said it will seek to emphasise its high-value appliances while also increasing its eco-friendly products such as solar panels.
Matt Warman Telegraph.co.uk