As reported by Japan's Nikkei newspaper, Panasonic is going to partner with retailer Best Buy in the U.S. for a major push of 3-D technology. Best Buy brings the retail space, Panasonic brings the hardware, and presumably, customers will come, too—because Panasonic's cutting prices by almost 50% to entice them.
Beginning this coming Wednesday, Best Buy will construct special exhibition areas for Panasonic's new line of 3-D HDTVs (both LCD and plasma, more on that below) in a few hundred of its biggest stores. The Nikkei reports that that number will expand to 1,000 stores by the end of the year—a lot, but Panasonic has big plans for these TVs.
Panasonic's been hurting in the U.S.—it might be the fourth-biggest HDTV-maker in the world (behind Samsung, LG, and Sony) but in the U.S. it's also beaten by lower-priced brands like Vizio. In fact, Panasonic as a whole has been in the red for two straight years, and they're hoping a huge push on 3-D TVs will provide it. Even more, their plasma business has been severely underselling (as in all plasma vs. LCD sales numbers recently), and the company is hoping that plasma's inherent superiority for 3-D (thanks to faster refresh rates) will reignite enthusiasm for the tech.
But what about those price cuts? Panasonic expects its entire line to cost at least 30% less than it does in Japan, and sometimes as much as 50%—they're expecting/hoping U.S. sales to make up a full half of their revenue in the coming year, so they want to encourage the tech as well as some brand loyalty as much as possible. The given example: a 50-inch set in Japan costs 430,000 yen, or about $4,800. Here in the States? $2,500. That's a huge slash, even considering electronics prices are often lower in North America than Japan, and might just lead to the kind of sales Panasonic needs.
On the other hand, Avatar lost Best Picture—it's still possible that 2010, like 2009 and 2008, will not be the year of 3-D.
[Via Wall Street Journal]