Sharp Lays Out Global Handset Strategy

Nov 20, 2008
Naoki Asakawa, Nikkei Electronics
Masafumi Matsumoto, representative director and executive vice president of Sharp
Masafumi Matsumoto, representative director and executive vice president of Sharp
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The "SH9010C" Aquos mobile phone released in China in June 2008
The "SH9010C" Aquos mobile phone released in China in June 2008
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The "SH8010C" slide handset released in China in September 2008
The "SH8010C" slide handset released in China in September 2008
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The "SH9020C" Aquos mobile phone to be released in the near future
The "SH9020C" Aquos mobile phone to be released in the near future
[ If it clicks, the expanded picture will open ]

"It is our solid policy to expand our overseas business," said Masafumi Matsumoto, representative director and executive vice president of Sharp Corp.

Sharp explained the overseas strategy for its mobile phone business at the press conference on its fall and winter handset models for the Japanese market in Tokyo Nov 19, 2008.

Sharp currently forecasts mobile phone sales of 9.7 million units in Japan and two million units in overseas for fiscal 2008. The company is aiming to drastically boost its overseas unit sales while maintaining the largest share in the domestic (Japanese) market, which is anticipated to shrink from now (See related article).

"We are aiming for an 'overwhelmingly large' share of about 30% in the Japanese market," Matsumoto said. "Moreover, we are intending to increase overseas unit sales to a level on par with domestic unit sales over time."

Sharp positions its entry into China and other Asian and emerging markets as the highlight of its overseas strategy. The company released the "SH9010C" cycloid-style Aquos mobile phone as its first product targeting the Chinese market in June 2008. This model is gaining top-class popularity in the category of luxury handsets that cost Rmb4,000 or more, according to Sharp.

"Of total 26 models in the same category, the SH9010C ranked third in unit sales during the week from Oct 27 to Nov 2," the company said.

However, the market for Rmb4,000 and higher-price handsets is small in China; therefore, actual unit sales seem to have been no more than several tens of thousands.

In addition to the SH9010C, Sharp launched the "SH8010C" slide handset in September 2008 in China. And the "SH9020C" Aquos mobile phone, the successor to the SH9010C, will be released in the near future, the company said.

To further expand its business in China, Sharp is planning to leverage the sales channels of volume retailers to which it is supplying its Aquos LCD TVs, as well as to introduce other products in the lower price range, it said.

In the European and US markets, Sharp plans to expand its smartphone business. The company is supplying Windows Mobile-based smartphones to Willcom Inc and Emobile Ltd in Japan. Commenting on the possibility of using OSs other than Windows Mobile, Matsumoto said, "We select the OS in accordance with the telecommunications carriers' opinions, and we have no intention of setting any OS as standard. Google's Android is one of the options."

"We have acquired Linux technology through, for instance, the development of the Zaurus," he said. "It is possible that we will introduce a new OS in the manner we do not sacrifice our development efficiency."