Thursday, August 16, 2012

Japan's Dimwitted Smartphones

TOKYO—The first floor of the Bic Camera electronics store, a mammoth eight-story building covering an entire block here, is ground zero for Japan's electronics industry.
Flat-panel television sets, most bearing Japanese brands, have long filled the north end of the sales floor, where the store's best-selling products reside.
These days, amid slumping sales, the rows of TVs are relegated to the store's cramped second-floor quarters to make room for hundreds of accessories for smartphones—specifically the distinctively non-Japanese iPhone from Apple Inc. AAPL -0.14%
As they have fallen behind consumer electronics giants like Apple and Samsung, Japanese tech firms Sony, Sharp and Panasonic are trying to figure out how to get back on top. The WSJ's Daisuke Wakabayashi explains.

The store's decision shows the what has befallen Japan's technology industry. Once-powerful electronics conglomerates, which bet it all on TVs and missed the smartphone wave, are on the outside looking in.

Smartphones are now playing center stage in the consumer-electronics world, not only delivering staggering sales growth, but also cannibalizing sales of digital cameras, portable game machines and other strongholds of Japanese electronics.

Today Apple and Samsung Electronics Co.'s 005930.SE 0.00% are enjoying record profits and are combining for some 54% of global smartphone shipments in the first quarter, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

Click here to see the whole article in the Wall Street Journal

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