Panasonic plans to invest $1 billion by 2012 to develop green technologies for the home that would include energy-monitoring systems, marking a major shift in the company's focus.
Panasonic President Fumio Ohtsubo said in an interview with the Bloomberg news service this week that growing consumer interest in more efficient products has led Panasonic to decide to develop new core businesses.
"Our growth is not enough compared to Samsung. So we want to change our fighting ring from our current categories to a different field," Ohtsubo told Bloomberg.
The company plans to offer home energy management systems, as well as develop existing interests in lithium ion batteries for electric, solar panels, and smart appliances.
Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean that the world's leading plasma-TV manufacturer is getting rid of its star product.
As one of its green product ideas, Ohtsubo told Bloomberg about a system in development that would allow people to monitor the electricity generation of their solar panels and the electricity use of their home appliances through their television sets.
One can't help but wonder if Panasonic's interest in a new core business was in any way influenced by the U.S. Department of Energy's decision to curb Energy Star seals for supersized televisions. Very large televisions could fall out of favor if an increasingly energy-conscious public relies on the Energy Star seal when deciding which products to purchase for their home.
It also remains to be seen if this means Panasonic is going to abandon its plasma TVs in favor of the increasingly popular LCD and LED-based LCD televisions. Panasonic already does make LCD televisions, in addition to plasmas.