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Sayonara Mitsubishi TV

Seems I’ve been writing a lot of obituaries for a lot of very good industry people lately. This is the first one, and hopefully the last, I’ll have to write for an entire TV company.

Sad news dribbled out late last Friday that Mitsubishi was shutting down its front-projection and large-format LCD TV operations to focus solely on its LCD data wall display category.

James Chan, Mitsubishi Electric Visual Solutions America marketing VP, told TWICE: “We are halting production of our front-projection products and our large-format single-unit LCD displays.”

“We have been sustaining significant losses for a number of years now,” Chan continued. “Our CEO back in Japan has a philosophy that we have to make strong businesses stronger and in turn cut off businesses that are not making money and affecting the profitability of the stronger businesses.”

The wind-down will be gradual, Chan confirmed, adding that “each region of the world has inventory to sell through so we basically are existing now to sell through what’s left.”

Mitsubishi will continue to service the product it has sold and honor its warranties, which run as long as three years.

The move follows Mitsubishi’s decision in December 2012 to exit the rear projection TV business, which had represented a large percentage of its consumer display operations. The company was credited with helping to build the very large-screen TV category, when it began innovating one-piece rear projection systems in the Seventies.

Later, the company was among the first to launch a consumer-focused plasma TV, helping ignite the flat-panel TV business that continues today.

Now, with front projectors added to the mix, Mitsubishi will be out of the consumer-focused home entertainment display market, entirely, Chan confirmed.

What’s left, he said, will be LCD data walls, which continue to generate margins but are focused primarily on commercial applications.

Chan said deals are being struck now with Mitsubishi’s channel partners to clear out the remaining front projector inventory.

Chan said about 20 U.S. sales people were let go last Friday, “and we are retaining about six or seven of them to help us go through this remaining inventory, until they are let go by the end of the year.”

Over the years, the company had been home to many of the consumer electronics industry’s most respected sales and marketing executives — many of whom continue on with other companies today.

To those left, good luck and thanks for the memories.