Panasonic Pulling Out of Japan's Smartphone Market
Japan's Panasonic is finalising its plans to withdraw from the local smartphone manufacturing business, although it may still produce specialised devices for corporate users.
The Nikkei newspaper reported that it will stop selling consumer smartphones by the end of this year, and expects to stop production completely by March 2014.
The company has been hurt by NTT DoCoMo's recent decision to focus its sales efforts on phones supplied by Sony and Samsung.
Panasonic Mobile began supplying mobile communication terminals in 1979 and delivered the first automobile-mounted cell phone, the 800MHz "TZ-801" to Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corporation.
Panasonic Mobile reached Japanese shipment milestones of 10 million units in June, 1997 and 50 million units in March, 2001 and 100 million in 2008.
Prior to the start of the automobile telephone service in December, 1979, the company shipped 100 units of the "TZ-801" that had a capacity of 6,600 cc and weighed about 7 kg. This model was followed by the first "shoulder phone" that could be detached easily from a car holder and be carried around on the caller's shoulder.
The company contributed to the development of mobile phone industry by delivering its first mobile phone "TZ-802B" in 1987, the world's smallest and lightest "mova P" in 1991, and the digital mobile phone "mova P201 HYPER" in 1996. Weighing less than 100 g, the mova "P201 HYPER" became a big hit because of its compact, lightweight body and its user-friendly features.
The "FOMA P905i" under the name of "VIERA keitai" for NTT DoCoMo has become the 100 millionth mobile terminal delivered by Panasonic Mobile.
The company is also seeking a buyer for its base station manufacturing subsidiary, and has reportedly approached several potential buyers.