(Nikkei BP Group)
(No.1 High-Tech News Site in Japanese)
| Panasonic Computer Co. Aims to Earn 100B Yen in 2000: President
January 14, 1999 (TOKYO) -- The Matsushita group's personal computer
business has been growing steadily.
|Panasonic Computer Co. (PCC), a company launched in February 1997 by
Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. to boost the PC business in
defiance of the firm's conventional divisional system, has seen its
efforts bearing fruit.
PCC's sales for fiscal 1998 were estimated at 56 billion yen (US$498
million). Sales of its line of notebook PCs, Let's note Series, and
peripheral products have been growing 20-30 percent annually. With these
two types of products, PCC aims to reach sales of 100 billion yen (US$890)
in fiscal 2000.
Company President Ryuichi Kurabayashi revealed the firm's
future business plan at a recent press conference.
The following is the gist of the press conference compiled by BizTech.
Beyond Withdrawal and Hardships
Just in the past five years, Matsushita's PC business has gone through
a number of hardships: the end of the outsourcing business for IBM Japan
Ltd., the ended sales of machines compatible with Fujitsu Ltd.'s FM-R
model, withdrawal from the UNIX workstation business, unsuccessful entry
into the DOS/V PC (PC-AT compatible machine) market and unsuccessful
marketing of audio-visual PCs.
Sales of WOODY, an audio-visual PC which combines with a television,
have proven unsuccessful even though the product was regarded by market
observers as original.
I attribute the failures to: (1) delays in compliance with the industry's
standard, (2) over reliance on our conventional distribution routes,
and (3) the limitation of management in line with the divisional system.
In short, when we sell PCs, we use all our distribution networks.
PCC was established to take care of marketing and merchandising. Its
task is to bridge the gap between production and distribution at different
divisions and affiliates. The organization is nothing like an internal
venture company, but I call it a "venture" whenever necessary with an
aim of ending the traditional sales method and focusing on certain businesses.
Because I consider distribution as a sort of venture, I have been attempting
to distribute our PCs in an unconventional way. As a result, our distribution
cost has been reduced by 66 percent.
More Let's note Models
Initially, we were reluctant to embark on manufacturing PCs. However,
we decided to make mobile PCs upon strong internal requests. At that
time mobile PCs were manufactured only by IBM, and we thought we wouldn't
lose much money even if we failed.
Unexpectedly, however, the mobile PCs turned out very successful. Its
sales accounted for 50 percent of our total sales for 1998. In sales
of B5-sized mobile PCs, we are next to Sony Corp.
For our 1998 winter models, we added new line ups such as a model with
a mobile phone interface and one equipped with a charge-coupled device
(CCD) camera. We will need to maintain such line ups even for the next
models by releasing successor models. It is hard, but I think we will
have to do it anyway.
In addition, sales and profits of the peripheral products business are,
to some extent, predictable compared with those of the PC business.
Sales of DVD-RAM drives and other storage devices also will grow in
On the other hand, our display business is still unsatisfactory. Matsushita
is supposed to be strong in display products. We aim to boost such sales.
We hope to raise sales of peripheral products to the level of PC sales
in the future.
Direct Sales Planned in 1999
Speaking of distribution, we are expecting home electric appliance shops
affiliated with Matsushita to play a more active part in 1999.
Sales at these shops handling only Matsushita products doubled in only
six months during 1998. An increasing number of young, enthusiastic
managers of these shops say they want to sell Let's note.
We also hope to launch direct sales. We aim to start domestic direct
sales by the end of 1999.
Matsushita to Start Direct Sales of Personal
Sony Offers Low-Price Notebooks: Nikkei Personal
(BizTech News Dept.)
<Visit News Center for more Asian news.>