Aiming to Reinvent Itself, Panasonic Moves Beyond the Living Room

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Like other troubled Japanese electronics giants, Panasonic is trying to get its own house in order. Consumer electronics like those that were once made at Fujisawa provided the foundation for Japan’s postwar economic miracle. But in recent years, South Korea and Silicon Valley have moved to the fore in technological innovation and marketing, while China has taken the lead in manufacturing.

So Panasonic is trying to reinvent itself as a provider of less visible but more profitable industrial technologies. It is focusing on two areas: homes and automobiles, where it supplies battery cells to makers of electric cars, like Tesla Motors.

Panasonic is not the first Japanese electronics giant to back away from the consumer business, but the transformation — if it succeeds — would be particularly striking. Others, like Toshiba, Hitachi and NEC, were just going back to their roots as providers of industrial equipment like power turbines, mining tools or telecommunications gear. Panasonic, founded by Konosuke Matsushita in 1918, started as a maker of consumer lighting fixtures.

Panasonic’s biggest Japanese rival in consumer electronics has long been Sony, which is sticking with smartphones, TVs, cameras and other devices despite tough times. And even Sony has been doing better with some behind-the-scenes products, like sensors for smartphone cameras, than with some of its own branded electronics.

In October, as Sony reported a loss for the most recent quarter, Panasonic posted a net profit of 61.5 billion yen, or nearly $590 million, and raised its earnings forecast for the full year.

Eine großartige Leistung des Managements. Hut ab!