Will Toshiba Call It Quits on LCD?

A report last week in Tech-On speculates on the possibility that Toshiba might exit the LCD business. The article quotes a senior executive vice president as saying “”Our LCD display business has been worsening, and we are in very difficult circumstances.” He was referring to the LCD business of Toshiba Mobile Display Co Ltd (TMD). This originally was a joint venture with Matsushita (Panasonic), but Toshiba bought out the other company’s share in early 2009.

If you do a search on this story, you’ll find some Web sites that report that Toshiba is considering pulling out of the LCD TV business. (I won’t cite any specifics here for there’s no need to embarass those sites.) And that’s completely wrong. TMD is the portion of Toshiba that manufacturers LCD panels, not TVs. With some limited exceptions, the company makes displays for mobile products, up to about 10 inches diagonal. It should come as no surprise that this highly competitive market is getting tougher, as Taiwan and mainland China increase their production capacity for small and medium LCD panels.

The division that makes and sells LCD HDTVs — including the new CELL TVs announced at CES last month — in the U.S. is Toshiba America Consumer Products (TACP) which is a completely different company, and one that relies on other LCD manufacturers for the panels used in their sets.

So it’s quite possible that Toshiba may throw in the towel for the small and medium LCD panel business, but don’t expect them to exit the LCD HDTV market any time soon.