Panasonic to focus on 3G handsets - What's New?
Panasonic to focus on 3G handsets
16 December 2005
Reported by Albert Malik
Panasonic Mobile's parent company, Matsushita Electric Industrial, has decided to focus on 3G handsets when developing mobile phones, and stop developing GSM handsets completely. Despite such handsets as the VS3 and MX6 (as reviewed here on iMobile), Panasonic has been having a hard time in the worldwide market outside their home country of Japan, having trouble competing with similar yet cheaply priced handsets.
<One of the NTT DoCoMo ad
By focusing on 3G W-CDMA handsets, Panasonic Mobile hopes to leverage its experience as a leading manufacturer of such phones in the Japan market in the rest of the world. It aims to develop a global platform for phones based on the Linux operating system, which is already being used for phones marketed by NTT DoCoMo in Japan. With this decision, Panasonic will drop all development of handsets based on the Symbian OS. While GSM handsets won't be developed anymore, Panasonic will continue to sell the handsets they have already developed, as they have a large inventory of them waiting to be sold overseas. In Australia, handsets such as the VS3, MX6 and others will continue to be sold and parts and warranty service will continue to be made available.
Panasonic Mobile will undergo a major reorganisation from January 2006 as part of the decision, with Panasonic Mobile's subsidiary in the Philippines set to close and their Czech Republic operation to stop production of GSM handsets. Panasonic's research subsidiary in the US, which was responsible for handsets such as the X700 and X800, will be closed, and the European research arm in the UK will focus solely on W-CDMA handsets. Finally, Panasonic's manufacturing plant in China will be modified to produce 3G handsets only.
So when will Panasonic unveil new phones outside Japan? Unfortunately they didn't announce that particular decision, but in my view this is something that has been long overdue at Panasonic and comes a bit late from them, as their handsets have always played second fiddle to more recognised manufacturers such as Nokia and Motorola. In Japan, Panasonic has produced handsets such as the P901iTV and P902i that demonstrate that it is perfectly capable of producing market leading handsets (and 3G ones at that), but outside Japan they have never used that expertise, preferring to develop handsets ‘tailored' for the worldwide market. The new VS series and related phones developed by them showed some similarity with their Japanese-market models, but now that they have made this decision we can only hope for devices with much improved functionality and devices that appeal to everyone. We'll see what happens.