Panasonic to re-enter European smartphone market in 2012

Panasonic is preparing to re-enter Europe next March with a new smartphone as the first step in a rejuvenated global mobile strategy.

The company, which has warned it will likely report a $5.5 billion (€4.1 billion) annual loss, said the European launch of its Android-based smartphone will be followed by shipments to the United States and Asia. The company said it was hoping to sell 15 million new smartphones by early 2016, with 9 million of these being sold outside of Japan.

Panasonic retreated back to concentrating on its domestic mobile phone market around five years ago having failed to recognise the shift towards smartphones. The firm launched it first smartphone this year in Japan.

Commenting on the proposed launch, Toshinori Hoshi, head of the company's mobile communications unit, told Reuters that Panasonic is well aware of its powerful competitors. "However, market shares are changing dramatically and if we launch into this fast-changing market, we believe we have a chance of a hit."

The first Panasonic smartphone to be seen in Europe will offer a 4.3-inch, 960x540-pixel OLED screen and a waterproof and dustproof design. The company said the target market will be business people in their 30s and 40s.

"It's hard to imagine they can improve profits by making phones," Yuuki Sakurai, president of Fukoku Capital Management, told Reuters. "From an investors' point of view, it looks as though they are casting around for something else to do after slipping up in televisions. It's not very appealing."

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this CNET article

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