Japan is well-known as one of the most-saturated mobile phone markets on the planet, with pretty much everyone who wants a cell phone having one (or five) and manufacturers differentiating their wares with media tie-ins cutsey designs, or envelope-pushing features not available elsewhere in the world. So it’s a telling sign of the times that Japanese electronics giant Toshiba has announced (Japanese) it is getting out of the mobile phone business in Japan, citing a decline in sales. Instead, the company will cut costs by outsourcing production of mobile phones, and will focus on producing high-end phones for the burgeoning Chinese marketplace.
Toshiba’s Japanese phone production is set to end in October. The company believes the move will save it ¥4.5 billion (about $47 million USD) during the current fiscal year.
Toshiba has been losing an unspecified amount of money on its mobile phone business, and saw its handset sales decline by about 50 percent in the fiscal year ended in March 2009 to around 3 million handsets.
Toshiba’s move echoes a similar shift made by Sharp last year, which also pushed into the Chinese market with high-end handset models. Sharp is now looking at at recovery for its handset business, and believes it will sell more than 12 million phones during the current fiscal year ending in March 2010.
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