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Fujitsu says sayonara to Toshiba in bid to take on Apple

Japanese electronics giant still struggling internationally

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Japanese computing giant Fujitsu has bought out Toshiba's share of the firms’ joint mobile venture, to give it a clear crack at unseating Apple, which only recently jumped into top spot in the land of the rising sun.

In a brief press release, Fujitsu explained that it had acquired Toshiba’s 19.9 per cent ownership stake in the rather dour sounding Fujitsu Toshiba Mobile Communications.

The firm will now become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fujitsu with the equally uninspiring moniker of Fujitsu Mobile Communications Limited.

The two Japanese electronics giants joined forces in October 2010 to take on then market leader Sharp in the mobile space, although it was always Fujitsu – with an 80.1 per cent stake – that was the senior partner in the venture.

It remains to be seen whether Fujitsu can now take the initiative and challenge Apple in its domestic market, as well as take on the fruity iPhone-maker and others internationally.

Apple jumped to the top of Japan’s smartphone charts in the final quarter of 2011 thanks to the incredible success of the iPhone 4S – incredible because it managed to do so in a market where consumers historically favour domestic producers.

It now has 27 per cent of the Japanese smartphone market while Fujitsu is in second place with 18 per cent and just ahead of Sharp with around 16 per cent, according to IDC figures.

The jury’s still out on Fujitsu’s long-term future in the mobile space though. Gartner’s latest vendor update for the firm at the end of December 2011 rated it a less-than-reassuring ‘caution’.

“Looking forward, all the local mobile device players are struggling to find an opportunity to get into business in foreign countries. We see that it’s not easy,” Gartner analyst Atsuro Sato told The Reg.

“They have to compete with established premium branded vendors and emerging players who compete now not only on cost but high-end product specs. In such circumstances, one area Japanese vendors could focus on is enterprise or public sector business, rather than aiming at the consumer mass market.” ®

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