Panasonic is one of the few remaining Plasma set makers and dimming prospects for Plasma may have played a part. Although Plasma had been written off as a declining technology some years ago, the re-emergence of 3D sparked something of a revival. Due to the fact that 3D trades temporal resolution (response time) in order to get 3D, with its much faster response time, Plasma was a better fit for modification to 3D. Panasonic jumped on this and launched a line of studio production equipment to enable wider adoption of 3D. However, although 3D remains an inevitability, much of the initial enthusiasm for it has dampened with disappointing sales.
The TechRadar post indicates that Panasonic will convert its LCD making capacity over to smaller screen sizes and specifically mentions Apple as a potential customer. Slow production rates for the new in-cell touch screens for the iPhone 5 may have provided an opening for a new supplier. Even if such is the case, it still takes huge volumes of 4" smartphone screens to make up for a 55" TV in terms of LCD production capacity. Although top brands have left the TV market before, I do not think that Panasonic will be one of them until they make the announcement themselves. As some stability comes to the mobile device market, TV seems poised for some excitement as the battles between competing OS owners spills over into new territory. As a top brand overall and a top TV brand, Panasonic would seem to be poised for some excitement as well. The latest reports indicate that Panasonic is denying these rumors of its exit.
10/9/13 Exactly a year after the rumors started, Panasonic has announce that will be exiting the Plasma business. The decline of this great technology is mourned by CNET who noted that 4 out of their 5 top pics for TV picture quality were plasmas. While plasmas did have more of an issue with surface reflections and did consume more energy than LCDs, it seems to have been their early problems with image burn in that cursed the technology. Given the way most American people set up their homes, the current crop of LCD TVs produces an image beyond the resolution limit of the human eye. Though consumers are not explicitly aware of this, they do know what they see at TV show rooms. If there is little discernible difference among sets along their major performance characteristic, consumers move on to more minor issues including consideration of a longevity issue that plasma sets no longer have. Given that Plasmas were cheaper than equivalent sized LCDs, the decline of plasma would tend to indicate that cutting price is not a panacea for marketshare.