I had a chance to speak with Fujitsu’s representatives in Barcelona and they seem pretty bullish on the prospects of selling Fujitsu smartphones and tablets outside of Japan. Let’s face it, Japan used to be a very different market and their phones had little to do with those sold elsewhere, but that’s no longer the case with most folks now using all-touchscreen devices a la iPhone — Fujitsu refers to this trend as “alignment in technology” and obviously plans to use it to get benefits of the scale and expand its reach. No specific markets were named, expect that they are looking to Europe, North America and China.
Already, the Japanese company owns 20% of its domestic market, and is the number 1 phone supplier to NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s leading mobile operator, while also selling its products to KDDI and SoftBank.
So what can Fujitsu bring to the world?
All Fujitsu phones will still be made in Japan, assuring high quality production. That, however, comes with a caveat (higher-labor costs) and in that sense, the company won’t target low-end market. Rather, it plans to launch devices for the mid-tier and above segments.
It’s also worth adding that all Fujitsu devices are waterproof and the inclusion of that “feature” is included in the production process (as opposed to nano-coating), having a little impact on manufacturing costs.
Moreover, all of their products are NFC-enabled while some have biometric lock/unlock capability. Additionally, there’s advanced audio technology (some of which is Fujitsu’s IP) that provides for crystal-clear voice quality.
Finally, Fujitsu has an impressive camera technology, relying on Sony’s Exmor sensor that is additionally beefed-up with its own Milbeaut image processing chip, fish-eye lens and custom software that enables a number of cool effects.
What about software?
We were pleasantly surprised to see that Fujitsu phones (at least those we had a chance to check out) don’t have a custom overlay running on top of Android. Fujitsu did make some changes as part of their NX UI, but we’re talking about tiny things, which don’t ruin the original Ice Cream Sandwich experience. For instance, there are custom airport-like icons in the status bar (for turning on/off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and so on), and the option to hide and lock certain apps, which is a feature enterprises could use.
Furthermore, they’ve been telling me about their so called human-centric engine, which packs a number of different audio and video technologies to improve end-user experience, automatically changing phone settings to adapt to the user’s current situation.
So when will Fujitsu enter markets outside of Japan?
All we have is “Q4,” plus a hint that they are negotiation with carriers and other distributers as we speak. We’ll most likely see three devices released in the first queue – two smartphones and a tablet. One of the smartphones they’ll be launching has already been described in our hands-on post and you can check it out from here.
It’s good to see another company entering the space, providing yet another option for the users. And while the smartphone market is getting increasingly crowded, there’s still a ton of room to grow, with more and more people buying their first smartphone (rather than feature phone). I do think Fujitsu has a chance to compete in the higher-end of the market, though they need some serious partnerships in place to succeed. We want them to do that cause we (or that’s just me) really like their phones. 😉