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Sony and Panasonic sign OLED TV partnership agreement, will face ongoing Korean threat together

OLED TV WallReports appeared in mid May that Sony and Panasonic were holding preliminary talks to develop and manufacture OLED television screens together, in an effort to not only minimize their own expenditure, but to lower the retail costs too.

This morning, a press release has confirmed that both companies have signed an agreement “regarding the joint development of next-generation OLED panels for televisions and large-sized displays.”

OLED screens are tipped as a future home theater hit, but as the technology is still very new, the first examples have high price tags. Samsung and LG have both debuted 55-inch OLED televisions this year, however as each requires an investment of at least $10,000, neither will be big sellers.

LG’s Steve Gater told TechRadar.com at the launch of its 55EM9600 OLED TV that “a mass market for OLED is years off,” and that the company didn’t expect to sell many for some time.

Sales though, probably won’t matter to Sony and Panasonic just yet, but the fact the Korean pair both have big screen OLED models ready to go this year and they don’t, will have assisted in making signatures appear on dotted lines.

Sony and Panasonic’s partnership is a bold move which could prove LG’s prediction wrong, and give them the edge back in this new and important market. It’s the pair’s intention to jointly develop the techniques used for making next generation OLED screens, and to have the technology needed for mass production ready during next year.

Initially, there were plans to have OLED screens go on sale before the 2012 Olympic Games, but this is unlikely to happen, as Samsung has said its ES9500 OLED TV will hit Korean store shelves during the second half of 2012. Samsung and LG have also said they don’t expect prices to reach current LCD levels until 2016.

Can Sony and Panasonic bring this date forward by a couple of years? If they can, the Japanese brands could begin to claw back some of the market share lost to Korean rivals over the past few years.