Panasonic To Get The Ball Rolling Again With New Smartphones
Panasonic mobile phones aren’t exactly a new concept, so there’s no real reason to be thrilled about the company’s handsets. They’ve been around and they’re still being released in certain Asian countries where they’re reportedly very popular. For people living in the US and Europe though, Panasonic has ceased to be an important phone making brand several years ago. While multiple companies rushed to come up with brand new smartphones and struggled to create an “iPhone killer” (which we can admit they didn’t manage to do for the first few years since the release of Apple’s iPhone), Panasonic sat quiet in its corner and never joined in all the Android vs iOS vs “whichever other OS is popular nowadays” madness.
After a pretty long phase of inactivity (from 2006 when Panasonic pulled out of most mobile phone markets) the phone maker has recently announced that it will start selling its own smartphones in Japan in the first few months of 2011. New handsets will also travel outside the Asian continent in 2012. Some people argue that Panasonic is a bit late in snagging even a minor portion of the smartphone market share, but we can’t make any rash statements for the time being.
According to Reuters, the new devices will run Google’s Android operating system and are meant to become viable competitors for Apple’s iPhone, currently the leading device on the Japanese smartphone market. The Japanese company admitted that its decision to join in the smartphone fun came a bit late. Still, Panasonic hopes that it’ll be able to make its handsets stand out from others by emphasizing network capabilities with other products they currently make. “We misjudged the speed at which smartphones would be taken up in the Japanese market,” Osamu Waki, head of the company’s mobile communications unit told a news conference. He added that Panasonic’s goal is to catch up quickly. The company’s plan sounds something like this: raising mobile phone sales to 15 million units worldwide in 2015, compared to forecast sales of 5.4-5.5 million units just in Japan in the year to March.
I guess it all depends on what Panasonic plans to offer. In Japan it could actually impress the crowd with less of an exciting product. Overseas, however, most of us forgot what a Panasonic phone even looks like. Besides, those handsets of theirs are scheduled for 2012. By then we’ll get to see a completely different lineup of smartphones running Android and a new iPhone from Apple. So it’ll be quite interesting to see if the Japanese electronics maker can actually put all the time and effort it ahs into its products and catch up on the endless number of companies that have already made a name for themselves in the smartphone market (let’s see, the list includes Samsung, Motorola, LG who’s re-evaluating its approach, Sony Ericsson with a huge number of handsets waiting to be released).
Last but not least Panasonic is also up against rival company Sharp, who currently takes up the third spot on Japan’s top selling phone companies list. Sharp has recently announced that it has some pretty ambitious plans of grabbing a hold of 30 percent of the local market in the next two to three years. Who’d have thought that Japan, a country not so fond of iPhones (if I remember correctly, in 2007, when Apple launched the first handset, Japanese people were the first to say “boo” and mention they already have better) are all rushing to buy Apple’s smartphone nowadays? Moreover, at the beginning of this month Apple’s iPhone, the leading phone in Japan -in terms of sales- was dethroned by Samsung’s Galaxy S, which is a clear indicator that Japanese people were quite interested in Android. What will happen in the country in the next few years, we’ll only be able to tell when all pieces of the puzzle fall into place and all the companies who are currently working on phones eventually release them. Would you be interested in seeing Panasonic smartphones at retailers near you in 2012?11