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Sony says to end OLED TV sales in Japan

TOKYO, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Sony Corp 6758.T said on Tuesday it would pull the plug on sales of flat TVs in Japan based on organic light-emitting diode technology after demand for the pricey, ultra-thin sets failed to take off.

Sony said it has already stopped production of OLED TVs in Japan and would end sales when inventory runs out. It plans to continue production for North America, Europe and other overseas markets, a spokesman said.

The Japanese electronics and entertainment conglomerate had promoted the product as a symbol of the revival of its technological leadership when it announced plans to launch the world’s first OLED TV in late 2007.

OLED displays use organic, or carbon-containing compounds that emit light when electricity is applied. They produce crisp images and do not need backlighting, making them slimmer and more energy-efficient than liquid crystal display TVs.

But Sony’s only model -- an 11-inch set priced at 200,000 yen ($2,200) in Japan -- never achieved mass-market appeal. It is much smaller and more expensive than competing LCD and plasma sets, which have been selling at high volumes for several years.

Sony did not disclose how many OLED TV sets it has sold but said it has a monthly production capacity of 2,000 units.

“As a little over two years have passed since its launch, we see the demand for the model has run its course in Japan,” company spokesman Shinji Obana said.

“But we will continue sales overseas and research and development activities in OLED.”

Shares of Sony were down 0.2 percent as of 0120 GMT, underperforming a 0.3 percent rise in the benchmark Nikkei average .N225. ($1=90.01 Yen) (Reporting by Taiga Uranaka; Editing by Nathan Layne)