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(Updates with CEO comment in third paragraph.)
Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Panasonic Corp., will re-enter the European mobile-device market in April with the Japanese company’s first smartphone and expand the range of handsets to potentially include tablet computers.
The manufacturer, which reached a peak in European mobile- phone sales more than a decade ago, is targeting 1.5 million smartphone sales in the year to April 2013, said Laurent Abadie, the chief executive officer of Panasonic’s European business.
“It’s the right time for us to enter that market, knowing that we used to be quite a strong brand,” Abadie said in an interview today. “We may introduce a wider range of smartphones with larger screens later on, the question is whether we call them smartphones or tablets.”
Panasonic, which forecasts a record 780 billion yen ($9.8 billion) loss for the year ending March 31, is cutting jobs and closing factories amid mounting competition in TVs. President Fumio Ohtsubo is also shifting output away from Japan, to counter a strengthening yen. The company’s new smartphone, dubbed Eluga, will be built in Malaysia, according to Abadie.
Pansonic plans to sell about two-thirds of the new phones through network operators, Abadie said. In Europe, the Eluga will first go on sale in Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands.
--Editor: Simon Thiel, David Risser.
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