Sony, Panasonic said to have ended OLED partnership

After 18 months, the Japanese companies have reportedly dissolved their joint effort, stymied by technical hurdles. Instead, they'll focus instead on 4K ultra HDTVs.

Panasonic executives show off a prototype of a 56-inch 4K OLED TV at the 2013 CES. CNET/James Martin

Sony and Panasonic have reportedly ended an 18-month-old partnership aimed at mass-producing OLED panels for large displays and televisions.

We've contacted both companies to confirm the dissolution of the partnership, reported Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal citing unnamed sources. Reuters later confirmed the report through company spokespeople. We'll update this post when we get our own confirmation.

The companies announced the partnership in June 2012, touting their goal of reducing costs of production and potentially making the ultrathin OLED (organic light emitting diode) panels more affordable to vendors looking to bring the technology to future sets. They had hoped to be in mass production by the end of this year, when the partnership deal was set to end.

But the Japanese companies have apparently run into insurmountable technological hurdles on OLED panels and are instead focusing their efforts on conventional LCD screens for so-called 4K ultra high-definition televisions.

Their South Korean competitors, LG and Samsung, have thus far led the OLED market, although Sony was an early pioneer. But LG and Samsung have also reportedly been struggling with sales of the very expensive devices. They each have 55-inch models with initial price tags of $10,000 and up.

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