After exiting the global mobile phone market in 2005 due to poor sales, Panasonic attempted a comeback in 2012, only to essentially flop again the following year with 5.4 billion yen ($45 million) in operating losses in its mobile division. Samsung and Sony emerged as two of the big winners in the space, though Panasonic has still been trying to sell smartphones in India.
On Monday, however, there seemed to be fresh signs of optimism from inside the company about the outlook for its global smartphone business between now and 2018. According to The Economic Times in India, Panasonic is targeting close to $2 billion in smartphone revenue by 2018, as it seeks to make a global comeback in the space. The comments come from a top Panasonic executive in the country.
Global is perhaps not an entirely accurate way to describe the new push, as Panasonic seems to be doubling-down specifically on opportunities within emerging markets across south Asia, the Middle East, and Africa (largely ignoring Europe and the U.S.). But it’s certainly a step out of Japan, and for the low-end play and small margins it’s likely looking at for its smartphone business, the real growth and opportunity is indeed in the emerging markets. Playing a numbers/volume game rather than targeting wealthier consumers makes sense, and can be better accomplished in these rapidly growing regions.