Matsushita Officially Becomes Panasonic, Plans New TV Lines
Matsushita Electric Industrial Company name change to Panasonic Wednesday won’t have any impact on U.S.-based dealers, since they already sell the Panasonic brand. But retailers in the coming years can expect a variety of sleeker, more efficient TVs.
While Matsushita’s consumer electronics products and appliances are well known throughout the world, the company changed its name (and its ticker symbol to “PC”) to achieve greater global brand recognition, especially as it looks to grow in areas such as Russia, Brazil, India and Vietnam, said Joe Taylor, Panasonic’s chief operating officer. The company had been using three different names – Matsushita for products in Japan, National for home appliances, and Panasonic - which further confused the company’s brand image.
The company has said it plans to expand the sale of air conditioners, refrigerators and washing machines into Europe this spring. It has no immediate plans to bring those lines to U.S., but it could happen in the future, said Yoshi Yamada, chairman and CEO of Panasonic North America. U.S. dealers, however, can expect new plasma and LCD flat-panel TVs with a greater focus on being lighter, sleeker and more energy efficient, said Bob Perry, Panasonic’s senior vice president.
Many of those advancements are actually devised from the technological developments used to build Panasonic’s 150-inch TV, which was displayed outside the Sock Exchange, Perry said.
“Next year you’ll sets that are significantly thinner, significantly brighter and using significantly less energy,” he said.
The company is planning some “big” rollouts for the upcoming International CES, although Perry wouldn’t provide details.
The company plans to open a new manufacturing plant for plasma displays in April and a new LCD plant the following February. Those plants should be capable of producing 1 million and 1.5 million units, respectively, per month, Perry said.
Panasonic currently has about 60 percent market share in the U.S. for plasma displays and about 16 percent in all TVs, said Perry, who couldn’t provide an exact figure for LCD share but said it was less than 10 percent.
Panasonic is not particularly worried about second- and third-tier competitors, since many of their sets are manufactured under OEM deals with Panasonic. The new manufacturing plants will also provide the company with more efficiencies.
“We are the low-cost producer of flat panels,” Perry said, “so we’re not afraid of these second- and third-tier brands.”