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Big Week for Panasonic
Giant plasmas, 3D HD systems and a name change kept Panasonic in the news this week.
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October 03, 2008 by Richard M. Sherwin

Secaucus, New Jersey…Fresh on the heels of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. announcing that it has become Panasonic Corporation and its stock symbol on the New York Stock Exchange changed to PC from MC , the world’s largest consumer electronics company demonstrated the world’s largest Plasma TV sized at 150 inches. The giant 150-inch plasma screen was displayed outside of the New York stock exchange, where the company reportedly was already taking orders for the unit from sports bars, hedge fund owners and golden parachuted CEOs who just lost their jobs in the recent market crash. “Whether the economy is good or not, when things happen, consumers go home and they watch TV,” said Robert Perry, Panasonic’s recently appointed senior vice president.

Its first home could be a few miles up the avenue from the stock exchange firmly planted in Times Square.

Perry, who last worked for accessory maker Logitech, probably didn’t sell anything that was more than the size of a keyboard or mouse lately. However, he was at one time an executive with Mitsubishi. “I think you can reasonably expect that some time in the future, screens this size will become more common.” Perry added.

Engineers say that it has about a 100,000 hour lifetime.

While Perry wouldn’t reveal the price of the television, a major business entertainment product executive invited to the introduction, said he understood the price to start would be $100,000, but be under $85,000 by the end of next summer. Panasonic’s largest plasma unit, a 103-inch model, is selling for around $70,000 and that is expected to drop soon, too. The television weighs 1,700 pounds and is large enough to display a life-size baby elephant. It has 8 million pixels, is the size of nine 50-inch TVs and should be on sale next year.

Panasonic recently demonstrated a 3D HD system built around its 103-inch plasma display at CEATEC. The unit was similar to the Samsung and Funai LCD systems in that it relies on a standard Blu-ray disc player and battery-powered 3D glasses to produce three-dimensional moving images. At the Japan show Panasonic executes claimed that the quality would be equal to or better than the top 3D offerings in theaters now. Panasonic would not comment whether the 150 inch unit would also be available in a 3D model soon. (At the same show the company was rumored to have demonstrated a further upscale audio product line, which follows its very successful addition of quality HTIAB and other home audio products.)

Along with the name change, Panasonic is working on the brand changeover from National to Panasonic within Japan – where National is the primary brand the company uses for its home appliances – and is aiming to complete it by the end of March 2010.

Also on display was the latest VIERA HDTV technologies from Panasonic, including its first IP-enabled HDTV (VieraCast) and tru2way – an HDTV which enables consumers to receive cable TV services without a set-top box.

When it was first established in 1918 the company was known as Matsushita Electric Housewares Manufacturing Works, which was changed to Matsushita Electric Manufacturing Works in 1929. The company used the name Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. after its incorporation as a joint stock corporation in 1935. While the company used the National and Panasonic brand names over a long period, it decided in 2003 to position Panasonic as its global brand with the brand slogan “Panasonic ideas for life.”

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Richard M. Sherwin - Contributing Writer
Richard Sherwin is a former syndicated technology columnist and TV/Radio analyst, who has also been a marketing executive with IBM, Philips, NBC and a chief advisor to several manufacturers and service providers.

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