• Kyodo

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Struggling consumer electronics maker Sharp Corp. is considering turning to Fujitsu Ltd. to integrate mobile phone businesses to help recover its competitive edge in the communications field, according to the company’s restructuring plan.

Through the integration, the two companies’ combined share would have more than 30 percent of Japan’s market, where it commanded the largest share for a long time. The tieup would serve as a way out of cutthroat competition with its Japanese peers and counter globally dominant foreign rivals like Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.

According to the restructuring plan submitted to financial institutions on Monday, Sharp plans to stick to the mobile phone business on its own for the time being.

But Sharp may approach Fujitsu by the end of March, the close of its business year, with a proposal for integrating their operations if its domestic share and profit level fail to clear targets, the plan said.

Panasonic Corp., Kyocera Corp. and Sony Corp. also engage in the mobile phone business, but Fujitsu is seen as Sharp’s prospective partner because the company, which focuses on personal computers, has fewer competing operations with Sharp than other firms.

Once deciding to integrate its mobile phone business, Sharp would set up a joint firm with Fujitsu to take charge of product development and other operations. The two companies would likely keep their respective brands.

According to the Sharp plan, employees from Fujitsu would mainly develop products for NTT DoCoMo Inc., while those from Sharp would handle mobile phone development for KDDI Corp. and Softbank Mobile Corp.

Sharp long boasted the top share in the domestic mobile phone market, but it has been losing ground recently due partly to the popularity of smartphones launched by Apple and Samsung.

Sharp is also considering partnering with its Taiwanese business partner Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. in the production of smartphones, according to the restructuring plan.

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