Friday, 17 May 2013

Panasonic to re-enter India’s smartphone market

Japanese consumer electronics manufacturers Panasonic is planning to re-enter India’s smartphone market in a big way as it launches its first smartphone in the South Asian nation on Thursday. The Japanese electronics giant is hoping to tap into India’s 5.5-billion-US-dollar handset market after being away for more than half a decade. Partnering with Delhi-based Jaina Group for marketing, distribution and customer support, Panasonic revealed that Jaina Group will also advise the Japanese company on creating a smartphone portfolio suitable for the Indian market.

In coming back to the Indian handset market, Panasonic will find global rivals Samsung and Apple already entrenched into the environment, as the global leaders account for more than half of all smartphone purchases in India. But there is potential for Panasonic’s new entry – a smartphone with a 5-inch HD LCD screen and a 1.2 Ghz quadcore processor besides an 8-megapixel rear camera.

This new mobile phone is based on Google’s Android operating system and is expected to be in the 500-US-dollar range. Panasonic, as with most handset manufacturers, have made the leap to Android-based smartphones in the past few years. Panasonic sells Android smartphones primarily in the Japanese market and has increased its focus on smart devices since last year. “Reflecting a drastic shift towards smartphones, the feature-phone market has contracted substantially. Looking ahead, Panasonic will increasingly channel management resources into the smartphone field in an effort to expand its market share,” the company said in its annual report for the year ended March 2012.

Panasonic holds around 25 percent of the overall handset market in Japan, but has recently fallen victim to Apple’s all-conquering iPhone finally taking number 1 spot. The local manufacturers have traditionally found the Japanese market to be a fortress for locally-made phones, but last year, the fortress inevitably fell to the growing influence of the Cupertino-based behemoth in Apple – resulting in sluggish sales for Panasonic. The Japanese company, before its attempts to re-enter India, attempted to introduce its smartphones in Europe but has had little success with that venture.

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