Matsushita, Hitachi to cooperate in digital devices development

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. and Hitachi Ltd. has announced a broad tie-up that will mainly focus on digital appliances.

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. and Hitachi Ltd.announced Wednesday a broad tie-up that will mainly focus on digital appliances.

TOKYO (Asia Pulse)--Next-generation appliances, which make use of digital technology, are expected to grow into a major market. Matsushita Electric Industrial and Hitachi are seeking mutual benefits from their areas of technological expertise, and hoping to set the pace in product development, while saving on their capital investments.

They intend to jointly establish a planning and development company this year, to begin operations in or after 2003.

Both companies, currently hammering out specific details of the tie-up, have already agreed to work together in three areas: services that use IC cards, development of a home network connecting appliances through internet-wireless technology or special circuitry and technology that addresses environmental concerns.

The IC card service will include shopping via television but can also be used for household security systems. The development of home networks would enable access to household appliances or electrical devices through a mobile phone or personal computer.

For example, room temperature or refrigerator settings could be adjusted from a mobile phone. Until now, the appliance industry has focused on more particular product development, such as televisions, consequently delaying the development of integrated systems.

Also, compared with conventional products, digital appliances necessitate enormous investment. R&D costs for digital TVs and home servers for controlling appliances and information devices are said to total some 100b yen (US$839.2m).

The companies also plan to strengthen their cooperative ties in areas such as semiconductors, the development of audiovisual devices and production using information technology.