Rumor: Panasonic to withdraw (again) from European mobile market

October 26, 2012
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    Panasonic certainly started out its new mobile European adventure with some bold goals, but things didn’t go down as the Japanese hoped. With just two pretty average high-end phones, which had trouble being released when they were still moderately attractive, it couldn’t have been any other way, but instead of trying to be better, Panasonic seems to have abandoned the fight altogether.

    Both Nikkei and Reuters are reporting that the Eluga makers are looking to pull out from the European mobile market, and, while the news is yet to be confirmed, the sources sound pretty solid.

    The “when” of Panasonic’s Europe bailing is the only unanswered question, though chances are that six months from now there’ll be no trace of the company’s mobile division left on the continent. Kazuhiro Tsuga, the newly appointed executive of the corporation, has made the decision recently as part of a more complex plan of restructuring and cutting “money-losing or barely profitable businesses”.

    The initial plan was for Panasonic to sell 1.5 million smartphones across the Old Continent during its first business year back, while by 2015 the number should have been increased to 15 million globally, including 9 million outside Asia.

    Needless to say that real numbers didn’t even come close to such ambitious projections, which led Panasonic to reconsider its European strategy, but also to shut down the last remaining mobile phone Japanese factory and to shift production to Malaysia.

    Still, the Osaka-based tech giant is forecasting annual operating profits of around 260 billion yen ($3 billion), which is not too shabby for such a tough “economic climate”. That is of course no reason to keep throwing money in a pit, although one might have expected Panasonic to make a more cohesive and long-term effort in a very challenging, but rewarding market.

    Will Panasonic be missed from the European mobile phone market? Did you even know it was back?

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