SED Won't Become Commodity -- Toshiba's President Nishida Said at Year-End Press Gathering

Dec 25, 2006
Masao Oonishi, Nikkei Microdevices
Toshiba's President Atsutoshi Nishida talking with the press
Toshiba's President Atsutoshi Nishida talking with the press
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"We will release a product, but it will be pricey." Atsutoshi Nishida, President of Toshiba Corp. commented so about the "SED (surface-conducting electron-emitter display)" at the company's year-end press gathering. He said the first shipment of SED products is "slated for fall 2007."

Focus as studio monitor, at first

Nishida said it is the broadcasting industry who truly expects SED, amid current circumstances where cathode ray tube (CRT) displays are petering away. "I know several studios, who want to buy 100 or even 200 units as soon as we release a commercial application" (Nishida). He claims that LCD and plasma displays are not sufficient as a reference monitor at studios.

Toshiba plans to start shipping SED products in fall 2007, but considers focusing on professional users at first, positioning the SED as a "limited, pricey, high-end" product. Nishida said the company's plan to build an SED volume-production facility in Himeji is "advancing on track." However, saying the SED is not "competitive against the LCD TV" in the market for consumer TVs, Nishida indicated that Toshiba is not planning to bring SED to the current consumer TV market.

"LCD and plasma TVs have already become commodities. Generally speaking, most items disappear from the market 5 years after becoming a commodity. We want to raise SED as a 'non-commoditized product,' by protecting and keeping it from being commoditized," said Nishida. Commenting on external suppliers of SED panels, he said, "It is not that Toshiba dominates SED production. It may be far ahead, but we might set up a second or third plant."

About future panel technologies for TVs, Nishida explained, "It is difficult in principle to achieve full HD (high definition) and higher resolutions with the plasma display." Meanwhile, asked about the enhancement of a color range proposed mainly for the LCD TV and laser rear projector TV, he said, "The SED also has more to evolve through development of a new electron supply and a structure that saves manufacturing process, for example."

He cited the active matrix organic EL (electroluminescence) display as a potential successor to the SED. That is why Toshiba invests in the polycrystalline Si (p-Si) TFT line (at Toshiba Matsushita Display Technology Co., Ltd.), he added. However, "The technology has only become applicable to a 3- or 4-inch display and it is impossible to create a 40-inch organic EL display in 2 to 3 years. It is even difficult to achieve it in 2015 to 2016. We will pursue the SED until then, but management requires to consider about 10, 20 years ahead," Nishida said.

Toshiba may dominate HD DVD market

About the HD DVD, Yoshihide Fujii, President of Toshiba Digital Media Network Company, commented, "We are having a hard time checking each equipment's compatibility. It is much better if only Toshiba manufactures and supplies millions of units of players." Citing the HD DVD has earned higher recognition for its image quality and interactivity following its market debut, he said, "The SED and this new digital medium are the 'promising' products" in the Toshiba Group's AV-related business.

Toward rival Blu-ray Disc (BD) supporters, Nishida commented, "We expect them to release more products soon to activate the industry," but added, "The HD DVD already covers 300 movie titles as of the end of 2006. Like the DVD market expanded at a breath following the DVD drive's introduction to PCs, the HD DVD market will be also led by consumers, who 'watch movies also with PCs,' after the HD DVD drive's introduction to PCs." Asked a comment on BD playback capability featured with the "PlayStation 3 (PS3)," he answered, "I estimate those who buy the PS3 to watch movies account for only about 10% of total buyers and the others are pure gamers."