Panasonic turns to Android in crowded Japanese smartphone market

Panasonic has announced it will release a smartphone in Japan’s increasingly crowded market in a bid to compete with Apple.

It was announced yesterday that rival Sharp would also release a smartphone aimed specifically at the Japanese market, and now electronics manufacturer Panasonic has followed suit with plans to release a device next year, before releasing in other regions in 2012 according to Reuters.

The move comes at a difficult period – with Apple, Samsung and Google’s Android having already become firmly established. It prompted Osamu Waki, head of the company’s mobile communications unit, to tell a news conference that johnny-come-lately Panasonic may have erred in its decision to move so slowly into the booming market.

“We misjudged the speed at which smartphones would be taken up in the Japanese market. With the rapid shift to Android, we want to catch up quickly,” Waki said.

Panasonic will base its devices on Google’s Android OS as it goes up against the iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S, and will emphasise network capabilities with other Panasonic products.

It is hoped that Panasonic will raise total mobile sales to 15 million units worldwide in 2015 from 5.5 million expected in Japan before March, and to achieve this it will be very important for the firm to grab a chunk of the smartphone market – sales of which have increased massively over the past year

Panasonic pulled out of the overseas mobile phone markets in 2006 and now faces an uphill struggle to establish itself both at home and abroad.