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Canon to build ultrathin TVs in '08

Move defies predictions that steep price falls in flat-screen TVs would make it tough to roll out the new technology.

Canon said Tuesday it will start mass production of ultrathin energy-conserving televisions in early 2008, defying predictions that steep price falls in flat-screen televisions would make it tough to roll out the new technology.

In 2004, Canon and Toshiba set up a joint venture to produce surface-conduction electron-emitter display (SED) panels, which are thinner and consume less energy than liquid crystal display (LCD) and plasma display panels, the main technologies used for flat-panel televisions.

But steep price falls in existing flat televisions had cast doubt on SED televisions' commercial feasibility as a newcomer in the competitive flat television market.

Kazunori Fukuma, president of the joint venture, SED Inc., said production of SED televisions would start by the end of 2007 but full-scale production would start in 2008.

Canon and Toshiba said in March they would delay the launch of SED televisions by more than a year to improve cost competitiveness after prices of flat televisions dropped quicker than they had expected.

Analysts have been concerned that incessant price erosion in existing flat televisions and ballooning output capacity for LCD and plasma panels, which helps television makers cut per-unit costs, might dim the chances of SED televisions' commercial success.