Panasonic Mobile Mulling Android-based Handset, Overseas Operations

May 21, 2009
Shinya Saeki, Nikkei Electronics
Keisuke Ishii, board member and director of the Mobile Terminal Business Unit at Panasonic Mobile Communications
Keisuke Ishii, board member and director of the Mobile Terminal Business Unit at Panasonic Mobile Communications
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The "P-07A" (for NTT DoCoMo)
The "P-07A" (for NTT DoCoMo)
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The "931P" (for SoftBank Mobile). Its 2-inch sub display enabled to use the 8.1-Mpixel camera for taking a self-photo. The same function is available for the P-07A.
The "931P" (for SoftBank Mobile). Its 2-inch sub display enabled to use the 8.1-Mpixel camera for taking a self-photo. The same function is available for the P-07A.
[ If it clicks, the expanded picture will open ]

"We are seriously considering developing an Android-based handset and entering overseas mobile phone markets in fiscal 2010," said Keisuke Ishii, board member and director of the Mobile Terminal Business Unit at Panasonic Mobile Communications Co Ltd.

Panasonic Mobile discussed May 20, 2009, its future business strategies at a press conference on its handsets scheduled to be released in the summer of 2009.

Android is Google Inc's software platform for mobile information terminals. In Japan, NTT DoCoMo Inc just recently announced its Android-based handset, "HT-03A," manufactured by High Tech Computer Corp of Taiwan as one of its summer 2009 models (See related article).

"The global market for smartphones based on open source platforms including Android will reach 100 million units in three years," Ishii said. "We are discussing specific measures to succeed in such a large market."

However, he declined to specify the schedule, saying, "I cannot tell when we will announce our first mobile phone at this conference."

Panasonic Mobile is considering starting mobile phone business operations overseas in fiscal 2010.

"We will take an opportunity to explain our overseas business plans for next year in detail though we cannot disclose them today," Ishii said. Regarding detailed specifications and target regions, he only said, "We have not determined anything yet."

No KDDI handset for summer 2009

Panasonic Mobile will launch a total of six mobile phones in the summer of 2009, four NTT DoCoMo handsets and two SoftBank Mobile handsets. It will release no handset for KDDI Corp (au).

"One of the reasons is the fact that KDDI handsets use a different network technology from the one used by NTT DoCoMo and SoftBank Mobile," Ishii said. "But the main reason is that we failed to propose a highly competitive product. We will continue to propose our products to KDDI for fall 2009 and thereafter."

Of its summer 2009 models, Panasonic Mobile spent the most time introducing its high-end products, specifically the "P-07A" for NTT DoCoMo and the "931P" for SoftBank Mobile, which it has named the "Viera Keitai." Both of the handsets newly incorporated a 2-inch color LCD panel with a pixel count of 427 x 240 as a sub display.

The handsets employed the "W open style," an opening mechanism that allows a handset to open both lengthways and sideways, which is already well known through existing Viera Keitai models including the "P-01A." The company equipped these handsets with the sub display to make it easier to take photos when they are closed.