Sharp Strong In Smartphone Market

Sharp strong in smartphone marketAfter months of wading, Sharp is diving into the lucrative smartphone market, intent on increasing its market share fivefold within two to three years.

Japan's leading cellphone maker believes its new focus will translate into sales of about 5 million smartphones a year, up from several hundred thousand at present.


"We will continue to develop (conventional) cellphones, but we want to fully expand into the smartphone market from now on," says Masami Ohbatake, executive officer in charge of Sharp's information and telecommunication business.

Sharp has been the top cellphone supplier in Japan for five years and now holds a market share of around 30 percent.

However, rivals Apple Inc. and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications control the fast-growing market for smartphones.

Sharp has set a goal of lifting its share in the domestic smartphone market to about 30 percent within two to three years.

The company entered the smartphone market earlier this year with two models.

The 140,000 units it shipped in Japan in the six months through September gave it a 6.3-percent share, third behind Apple (60.1 percent) and Sony Ericsson (20.6 percent), according to researcher MM Research Institute.

Between this winter and next spring, Sharp will release five new smartphones for NTT DoCoMo Inc., KDDI Corp. and Softbank Mobile Corp.

Sharp's new models will feature popular functions on conventional Japanese cellphones, such as electronic money, television viewing, infrared data exchange and illustrations for e-mail.

The company hopes its migration of strengths in conventional cellphones over to smartphones will give it an edge over entries by foreign rivals.

When KDDI began taking advance orders for Sharp's IS03 model in November, orders reached 270,000 on the first day.

Smartphones run on operating systems such as Google Inc.'s Android, which allows users to upgrade the handsets' capabilities by downloading application software.

But they have not been compatible with electronic money and other functions common in conventional Japanese cellphones.

Sharp also plans to link its smartphones with its Galapagos multifunction information terminals.

By next spring, users who buy content on the Galapagos terminal, smartphone or LCD television will be able to view it on any of these platforms.

Within the next fiscal year, the company also plans to launch smartphones equipped with 3-D cameras in the United States, China and India.

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