Panasonic focuses mobile business on Europe

Panasonic hopes to massively increase its number of smartphone sales by re-entering the European and US smartphone markets
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

Japanese electronics manufacturer Panasonic has outlined its plans to re-enter and become a major player in the European smartphone market within the next five years.

Panasonic prototype phone

Panasonic plans to re-enter the European and US smartphone market, and has revealed general details of its first prototype device. Image credit: Panasonic

The Tokyo-based company announced its intentions to expand its smartphone business, beginning with Europe, on Friday.

"With the mobile-phone market rapidly shifting to smartphone usage worldwide and a steady growth expected particularly overseas, Panasonic aims to tap into this growth with its first global model smartphone for the European market in March 2012," the company said in a statement.

In line with its ambitions to begin targeting the European smartphone market, the company said it aims to sell 1.5 million smartphones in the region during its next fiscal year. By 2016, globally, the company hopes to sell nine million smartphone devices across Europe, Asia, China and the US. It expects to sell another six million devices — five million of which will be smartphones — in its home territory during the same period.

In April, the company set up a new business unit — the Systems and Communications Company (SNC) — to oversee its expanded operations. It will be responsible for products and services related to "system, network and mobile communications", Panasonic said.

The company also gave general details of the first handset it will be launching in Europe. It will feature an "ultra-slim" D-shaped chassis, 4.3-inch OLED display and will also be waterproof and dustproof, Panasonic said. The company added that the device will act as a reference model for later expansion of the line-up.

Judging from the home, back and menu buttons on the front of the prototype device, it will arrive running an as-yet unspecified version of the Android operating system.

It will be the first handset from Panasonic to go on sale in Europe since the company exited the mobile market in the region in January 2006, and will go up against fierce competition from companies such as Apple and Samsung.

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