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Day 4 - IFA International

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MEET THE VISIONARIES YUjI NISHIYAMA VP AND DEPUTY GENERAL MANAGER PLANNING AND MARkETING AUDIO-VISUAL SYSTEMS GROUP SHARP CORPORATION "MADE IN kAMAYAMA!" IFA INTERNATIONAL VISITS SHARP HQ AND PLANT IN FACT-FINDING TOUR By Richard Barnes In the run-up to this year’s IFA, in order to give IFA visitors the most in-depth coverage of the market currently available, we travelled to Asia to get the “inside line” on what’s happening with the world’s top manufacturers. Here, we take you to Sharp’s HQ in Osaka, as well as visiting the Kameyama II plant… and bigger things are in store. When we talk about a Generation "whatever" plant, this pertains to the size of the “mother glass”, the substrate from which LCD panels are cut to form the heart of current day LCD TVs. Basically, the bigger the substrate, the more cost effective it is to produce large screen TVs. But producing a very large mother glass like the Generation 8 at 2160 × 2460 mm is not easy. Visiting the Kameyama II plant in central Japan, we witness the huge waferthin shimmering sheets of glass being shuttled delicately by robots from one part of the plant to another, before finally being churned out as gleaming new LCD TVs. Kameyama II also exports pre-cut panels to Europe where they are assembled into TV sets. At Kameyama we also take a sneak peek, with Sharp PR person Juri Katsuragi, at some of their stateof-the-art products and technologies, such as one with a built-in Bluray Disc recorder, or a triple-view set that allows people to watch different programmes on the same screen from different parts of the room! Following the visit, Juri accompanies us back to Osaka where we meet with Yuji Nishiyama, Vice President and Deputy General Manager — Planning and Marketing — Audio-Visual Systems Group for Sharp Corporation. We ask the simple question that begs to be asked… What are the latest big developments in LCD TV? Last year you already spoke about the XS-1, and we were very proud to have launched the “High End” of the spectrum… a little like the F1 racing car of LCD TVs! This set included an RBG backlight with local area dimming with a very thin profile. From this, we have been able to take advantage of the technology and apply it to future products. This will in fact be our cornerstone on which we build for the future. We indeed believe that the LED backlight is the way to go. It’s mercury-free and its advantages include reduced electrical consumption, so it is environmentally friendly and has the potential to further increase picture performance. But the LCD panel, technology wise, has not yet reached its full potential. There are many aspects that can be improved, such as the response time, colour reproduction and viewing angle. We can continue to bring exciting new developments into the market. Some people claim that PDP has some advantages, but these can now all be addressed with LCD technology. Talking about environmental consciousness this is very much part of your company’s philosophy. Please tell us more about this… We are very proud that we established the Kameyama factory with the aim of bringing not just new technology but also making it environmentally friendly such as a water recycling system that completely purifies water generated during manufacturing processes. We are very proud of that. We are also ‘aggressively’ using renewable energy, namely from solar panels that together with a cogeneration facility supply one third of the electricity we use. This factory is a symbol of our commitment to be friendlier to the environment. Customers are aware of this and in Japan they actually ask for panels and sets produced in this plant… the “Made in Kameyama” brand. Where it’s made, how it’s made and the environment, are all important in terms of raised consciousness. The TVs themselves are becoming more environmentally friendly too… As for the XS1 set, the annual power consumption for the 65-inch model is down approximately 26% compared to Sharp's 2007 model. We launched the 32” DE5 that uses about half of the energy of the previous year and just a quarter of the energy of similar models on the market five years ago. LCD itself already represented a much more energy efficient development and we are pursuing how to reduce energy consumption even more, such as in stand-by mode, to enhance customer convenience. We also pay attention to the materials used in producing LCD TVs, by carrying out tests on products for chemicals and working to abolish or reduce the use of chemicals that have a negative effect on people's health or the environment. Please tell us about the Sakai plant, where you are ahead of schedule. When the economy crashed, the government applied counter measures to stimulate the trade. It’s called eco-point. When you purchase a product in this programme you get a rebate, and this is helping to increase demand here. Also, we’re seeing healthy growth in the Chinese market despite tough competition from local manufacturers. In 26 IFA International • Monday, 7 th September 2009

MEET THE VISIONARIES order to meet that demand, we decided to enhance capacity at Kameyama and to bring forward the launch date for Sakai. We plan to start operations at the new Sakai plant in October, which is ahead of our initial plan to start in March 2010. Despite the worldscale economic recession, we have already had an improvement in demand overall and we are in a good position to take advantage of this and have a strong next year. The Sakai plant is not exclusively Sharp, but it’s more like a 21st century style industry collaborationmanufacturing complex. There are glass and colour filter production facilities alongside. With the production of LCD panels, efficiency matters such as the distance of transporting component parts, so we save both money and cut down on CO 2 emissions by grouping these processes in one place. We have adopted environmental lessons from the Kameyama plant and work together with Sakai’s local authorities and utility companies to implement environmental policies and practices from which other companies on the site can also benefit. There has been a lot of cooperation between all companies involved and we’re happy to take the lead in this. What new products are on show at IFA? At IFA we are going to release the new series LE 600 and 700 which are going to adapt some of the technology we learnt from building XS1. In the current economic climate in Europe, it is not the time to put in something extra that will push the price higher. It is like adapting the technology from an F1 racing car for an ordinary automobile. It demonstrates to the client that by using the LED backlight technology, the picture quality can be further enhanced, and these sets are the cornerstone for building future LED backlight TVs. So the XS1 is high end and the 600 and 700 series are affordable sets using future technology. A wider range of people will be able to buy LED backlit TVs. The new sets will be using white LED technology and will be reasonably priced. We are pushing the trend for larger size LCD TVs, and with the launch of the Sakai plant we can reinforce this trend with the ‘key-size’ LCD TV being 60”. Especially in the US and Chinese markets, they find 60” a decent size as the centrepiece for their Sharp stand at IFA 2009, showing new range of LED backlit LCD TV's. Home Theatres, yet at an accessible price point. What’s your long term vision for the consumer TV market? We’re in the midst of working on that. We need to create more value for the customer while remaining competitive in the market. Simply competing on price does not bring new customers. We need to attract more diverse consumers rather than just attacking the same markets. For LCD TVs, our company direction in the near future is to aggressively shift totally towards the LED backlighting system. We have an adequate R&D history in LED technology and we recently announced that we are entering the LED lighting sector with 9 different models. The physical shape is like a regular screw in light bulb and fit in the same sockets as ordinary incandescent bulbs. In other words they are simple and easy to use as replacements for ordinary lamps. They also feature adjustable colour and dimming functions. These are perfectly adapted for the Home Theatre environment as they change with the movie, not only in intensity but also the colour of the light. We saw the potential and invested in manufacturing LED technology, so now it makes sense for us to pursue LEDbacklighting system for LCD TV. In device technology we produce LED, Solar and LCD panels and we continue to look for ways to foster these technologies and to incorporate them into finished goods. LCD technology continues to improve rapidly in performance, so it would be very challenging for any other technology to catch up and become viable. The LCD panel industry is such a big industry now, as it attracts more technological advancements because it is competitive and has a lot of potential and attracts further investment to improve upon it, so I am not too concerned about the future. sharp_xs1e Hall 3.2 / Stand 101 IFA International • Monday, 7 th September 2009 27

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