Panasonic Moves Away From Consumer Products

Panasonic-1113Guest blog via Weezer Group

The Newark Star-Ledger reported earlier this month that Panasonic will abandon consumer electronics to focus on professional products only. WOW! Many I spoke to in past few months thought the pro side of the “Big Boys” (Panasonic, Sony, Sharp, Mitsubishi, etc.) was hurting but consumer was OK. Just OK, not great. So this seems a surprise. It was not a surprise was when last month Panasonic announced the phasing out of plasma displays. After all, it was the last company still supporting plasma technology.

As a consumer I am disappointed as Panasonic products were always rock solid reliable. As a professional I welcome this. Panasonic will be able to shift its considerable financial and technology resources into new pro technology. Because let’s face it, in past few years Panasonic (and Sony) has been fading. The question was, would they fade away like Ampex, RCA, EchoLab and soon Grass Valley and Chyron?

Many factors contributed to this:

  1. No doubt the recession impacted sales of both consumer and pro gear.
  2. The big wave of the digital transition has subsided. Broadcasters and video producers are now completely digital.
  3. AV Pros are still making the transition and as long as VGA continues to tread water, analog will be with us.
  4. Smaller, more nimble pro manufacturers are gaining market share.

Consider Blackmagic Design: Just a few years ago this small, Australian start-up offered analog to digital converters.  Due to shrewd acquisition, BlackMagic is now a serious player in the pro video world. In 2009, it acquired Da Vinci Systems, a company that had won Emmy Awards for its film coloring and restoration equipment. In 2010, Blackmagic Design acquired the remnants of Echolab, a manufacturer of production switchers. In 2011, Blackmagic Design acquired Teranex, a manufacturer of video processing products. In 2012, Blackmagic Design acquired Cintel, a manufacturer of professional post-production equipment for transcribing film into video or data formats. Also last year at NAB, BlackMagic made a huge splash when it introduced the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. Blackmagic may have reinvented the studio recorder with the HyperDeck Studio, which records uncompressed and compressed Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD video formats using fast 2.5″ SSDs — yet is easy to operate with familiar VTR controls.

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So it will be interesting how this news will impact the broadcast, pro video and pro AV markets. Hey… no predictions from this writer. Time will tell.

This column was reprinted with permission from Weezer Group and originally appeared here.