By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
New York – No new NEC-brand or Verizon-network Casio G’Zone smartphones will make their way to the U.S. market now that NEC has decided to stop developing, manufacturing or selling smartphones other than those already on the market.
The phones are made by NEC CASIO Mobile Communications, an NEC subsidiary that is 70.7-percent-owned by NEC. Another 20 percent of the subsidiary is owned by Casio Computers, and the remainder is owned by Hitachi.
“While NEC has made the decision to focus on the development of feature phones and tablets in the future, it in no way compromises our ongoing support of existing smartphones we have in the market today,” a spokesperson told TWICE. “We will continue to support current products, including the Casio G’zOne and NEC Terrain to ensure customers receive a solid mobile experience today and into the foreseeable future.”
NEC reentered the U.S. cellular market only last month with the launch of a ruggedized Android smartphone through AT&T’s business solutions channels.
At the time, NEC said it had been working with AT&T and other carriers to discuss placement of NEC products in their portfolios. “We don’t have anything to announce at this time,” a spokesperson said in July, “but we believe that the launch of NEC Terrain at AT&T is a strong step toward developing future opportunities.”
NEC had been absent from the U.S. cellular market since the early 2000s.
Also in the U.S., the NEC subsidiary offers two ruggedized Casio G’zOne smartphones through Verizon Wireless and one Casio G’zOne ruggedized flip phone, also through Verizon.
NEC announced its decision to pull back from the smartphone market on July 31 by saying that “economies of scale have become increasingly important for the maintenance and strengthening of competitiveness.” However, the company said, “NEC's mobile phone handset shipments are following a downward trend, and it is difficult to foresee improved performance in the future. In light of these circumstances, NEC reached this decision to review its mobile phone handset business following a comprehensive examination of the business' direction.”
The subsidiary will continue to offer conventional mobile phone handsets, and NEC itself will continue its tablet business.
The subsidiary generated revenues of 140 billion yen ($1.45 billion) in fiscal 2012 and sold 2.9 million units, the company said.
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