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Ilse Jurriƫn : November 14th 2005 - 22:38 CET

Casio 3G mobile phones supplied in USA

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CasioCasio 3G mobile phone : Reuters reported that Japan's Casio Computer Co. Ltd. is making an overseas push with plans to supply 3G phones to USA mobile carriers and for a deal to win shelf space for its digital cameras at USA electronics retailer Best Buy, Casio President Kazuo Kashio said on Wednesday. Casio, which also has hit products such as solar watches that use radio signals to keep accurate time and electronic dictionaries that help with pronunciation, derives three fifths of its sales in Japan. But the company is now in advanced talks with USA mobile carriers for a supply contract, said Kashio, the 76-year-old brother of the company's late founder.
Casio 3G mobile phones supplied in USAWaterproof 3G phone
The company's waterproof and shock-resistant 3G phones, which make up more than a fifth of total sales, have received high marks, Kashio said in an interview, declining to identify the USA carriers. "Casio would be able to take its current mobile phone models to America, so I wouldn't expect margins to drop off. And this could provide a significant boost to sales volumes," said Credit Suisse First Boston analyst Koya Tabata.

Supply deal with Best Buy
A supply deal with Best Buy would be another boost to North American sales, which make up 10 percent of the total. Kashio, who said he had pushed his USA sales manager hard and personally met with Best Buy, expected to win shelf space next year. There is room for growth: Casio's USA share for digital cameras is less than 5 percent, whereas it has 14 percent of the Japanese market. Another analyst at a foreign brokerage in Tokyo said a Best Buy deal would be key for two reasons. "One is the Japanese market is already mature, and second is that expanding its product line-up in Best Buy would allow the company to strengthen its brand name," he said.

Casio digital cameras - Overseas push
Casio, which is using digital cameras to spearhead its overseas push, will easily hit its target of selling 5 million cameras this business year, Kashio said, adding that continuous innovation was necessary in such a competitive market. "Every half year you have to market a new model with new technologies," he said. "If you fall behind in this schedule, you will lose." That's one reason why Casio reported record quarterly results last week while larger rivals such as Pioneer Corp., Sanyo Electric Co. and Victor Co. of Japan Ltd. (JVC) all reported losses in the first half on falling prices for digital cameras, DVD recorders and flat-screen TVs.

Casio profits
JP Morgan estimates Casio makes a 6 percent profit on digital cameras, while some rivals are losing money. Casio's radio-controlled watches and clocks have margins of 20 percent. But electronic dictionaries, Casio's second-most profitable business with margins of around 17 percent, are a tough sell overseas, Kashio acknowledged. The key to capturing half of Japan's 3-million-a-year electronic dictionary market was to work with schoolteachers to get it just right, Kashio said. Gaining that expertise abroad was hard, he said, adding that making a profit now mattered most for the company. "In the past Casio was a company that placed the biggest focus on gaining market share. To do that we had sacrificed profitability," Kashio said. "But four years ago I turned this company around to place the biggest focus on earning profit.

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