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Week-end Edition - Day 2 & Day 3 - IFA International

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PRODUCT TRENDS ON THE

PRODUCT TRENDS ON THE FRONTLINE OF "REVOLUTIONARy TECHNOLOGy" MIyATA MOVES BACK TO jAPAN TO RUN VIERA BUSINESS WW By Joanna Stephens The Panasonic VIERA range of plasma and LCD televisions combine high picture quality, smart networking, environmental friendliness and stylish design. Here, two key Panasonic executives talk to IFA International about the latest chapter in the VIERA story yOSHIIKU MIyATA Senior Vice-President and Director of Visual Products and Display Devices Business Group, AVC Networks Company "Creating a new and exciting television experience" You have recently moved from Europe back to Japan, where you are in charge of VIERA business worldwide. What does your new position entail? On April 1, 2009, I became the head of the Visual Products and Display Devices Business Group of AVC Networks Company, which is one of Panasonic's most important businesses. I oversee a wide range of visual-related businesses within Panasonic, which includes our VIERA flatpanel TV business, our digital set-top box business and our in-vehicle displaydevice business, to name a few. I was responsible for the marketing and the business management of our Panasonic European operations for four years from 2004 to March 2009. During those years, I worked closely with customers, dealers, business partners, governmental officers, the mass media and stakeholders. I feel that this experience will be very useful in my new position. VIERA TVs have set a high standard among retailers and buyers. How is the VIERA concept evolving? Our VIERA TVs have become well known throughout the world. However, if we rest on our laurels and no longer continue to improve our products, there will be no further growth. The concept of VIERA is to offer the most attractive flat-screen televisions on the market, as well as to deliver an exciting viewing experience to our customers around the world. This past April, I created a new vision and philosophy to reflect our commitment to the continuous evolution of the VIERA brand. In line with this, I have developed a new slogan: "Creating a new and exciting television experience." One concrete example of our evolution is that, this year, we are introducing plasma televisions featuring NeoPDP panels. By doubling luminous efficiency, these consume half the power of our 2007 models. We are also introducing LCD televisions with an IPS Alpha panel, which achieve outstanding energy efficiency due to the panel's excellent permeability. They also realise high picture quality close to plasma displays. Furthermore, we have continued to develop our NeoPDP technology. As a result, we have produced a new NeoPDP prototype, which achieves three times the luminous efficiency but consumes only one third of the power. Meanwhile, we are pushing forward with the commercialisation of our new technologies. VIERA continues to evolve and the market can expect yet more improvements from our VIERA flat-screen televisions in the future. What are your IFA priorities? Our IFA highlights include the newest models to feature our NeoPDP technologies mentioned above, as well as our LED-backlit LCDprototype. But our biggest news is the launch of our new 3D system, which realises a full-HD highresolution 3D picture and allows viewers to enjoy the experience of state-of-theart 3D Hollywood content in their living rooms. This is a prototype, which embodies 'Revolutionary Technology', which is Panasonic's motto at this year's IFA. For us, it symbolises the creation of an exciting new television experience. What about your other product ranges: camcorders, still cameras, BD players, etc? Are more people linking directly to the TV? We are proud of the network function between VIERA and DIGA, our Blu-ray recorder/ 28 www.ifa-international.org IFA International • Saturday, 5 th & Sunday, 6 th September 2009

PRODUCT TRENDS player, and our LUMIX HD camcorder. Together with our original signal-processing infrastructure, Uniphier, this enables smooth networking between appliances. The VIERA Image Viewer, which enables users to enjoy images and videos recorded on a DSC SD card with a camcorder on a VIERA TV screen, has been especially popular. It is a stress-free network function by which smooth reproduction can be achieved. How is Panasonic reacting to the current market conditions? What, if anything, are you doing differently? Although there are a few signs of economic recovery in some parts of the world, it remains a severe situation. The flat-panel TV market is not exempt from this. However, I believe the flat-panel TV market will continue its double-digit growth and, moreover, I am certain there remains plenty of room for improvement. But it is necessary to upgrade business efficiency by accurately evaluating the short-term demand. On the other hand, I think it is important to operate our business according to a longterm growth strategy. I also think it's important to develop products with which consumers can form an emotional attachment, because this will whet their appetite for purchase. It's also vital to carry out marketing activities to promote these products. But most important in today's testing climate is to have the flexibility and mobility to respond quickly to every environmental change — not to mention the ever changing demands of the market. Please tell us what your work entails… I am in charge of the design of the VIERA flatpanel TV, which is one of Panasonic’s masterpieces and condenses many of our advanced technologies. My mission is to build VIERA's design identity, which helps to create the Panasonic brand image, and to realise a beautiful, easy-to-use design. What are the main design trends at the moment? TV screens in general have become larger and thinner. The design of VIERA is based on the concept of a 'floating picture'. The intention was to make only the screen conspicuous so, metaphorically, the screen ‘floats’ in the air, with sound emitting invisibly from within the floating surface. That floating, transparent feeling is an important element of the design. In order to create the VIERA design language, KOICHI MATSUMOTO Manager, AVC Network Design Department, Design Company, Panasonic Corporation "The TV is evolving into a multimedia hub" our designers study the manufacturing processes closely with our engineers. Moreover, our designers visit consumers’ homes and study first-hand how they use consumer electronics and what their lifestyle requirements are. They then reflect these findings in the design development process. Another important aspect is the user interface. We are conscious that this needs to reflect user demand, because the TV is becoming more than simply a broadcast device. It is now evolving into a multimedia hub. Panasonic’s VIERA Link allows users to easily operate a range of equipment, such as the DIGA BD recorder, with one TV remote control. VIERA also offers such convenient functions as Direct TV Rec, which enables recording on to a DVD via a TV remote, Pause Live TV and access to the ever-expanding content and services available on the internet via IPTV. To further improve the convenience factor, a shortcut widget named VIERA TOOLS has been added on the screen. Moreover, we are considering enhancing ease of use still further by, for example, reducing the number of buttons and using large, easy-to-see fonts on the remote control. Where do you see this going in the next two years? I’m not sure whether it's going to happen within the next two years, but the big trend towards 3D and the evolution from 'television to watch' to 'television to use' will continue. As the number of peripheral devices connected to TV increases, the need for an easy-to-use user interface will increase exponentially. Meanwhile, improving the design of each product and establishing a unified image is also an important design theme. It is essential to build Panasonic’s design identity to the point where it can be recognised at a glance. Our challenge therefore lies in satisfying our customers’ regional preferences, while maintaining a global viewpoint. What features are becoming more important? As I mentioned earlier, usability is becoming more and more important, as are environmental issues. Panasonic promotes group-wide environmental management, including a strong focus on eco design. The latter entails adopting materials with low environmental impact and developing easy-todisassemble construction method. Equally, we are working to reduce the environmental impact of our product packaging. I also believe that our customers’ demands for safety and peace of mind will grow in the future. We have been manufacturing products that customers can use safely for long time now — and we have achieved that by establishing stringent quality-control standards. We will continue to produce products that are not only beautifully designed, but also rugged and resilient. Hall 5.2 / Stand 101 IFA International • Saturday, 5 th & Sunday, 6 th September 2009 www.ifa-international.org 29

IFA International