Matsushita Stock Hit by Nokia Battery Recall

Matsushita Electric shares fell to a two-year low after Nokia offered to replace as many as 46 million handset batteries produced by the company on concerns they may overheat. Matsushita, the world’s largest consumer-electronics maker – more widely known as Panasonic – saw it’s shares drop 5 percent on the Tokyo Stock Exchange to 2,015 yen which is the lowest closing price since October 2005.

Handset Makers Sued over Bluetooth

Three major electronics companies have been sued by a foundation which claims that their use of Bluetooth wireless technology infringed on patented work at the University of Washington. According to the lawsuit, Bluetooth-based computers, cell phones and headsets made by Matsushita, Samsung, and Nokia have violated four patents, including one that was issued for research done in the mid-1990s by Edwin Suominen when he was an undergraduate student at the University of Washington.

Sanyo Shares Slide on Battery Recall

Shares of Sanyo Electric Co., the world’s largest maker of rechargeable batteries, fell to a 31- year low after 1.3 million of its cells used in mobile phones were recalled on concern they overheat and rupture. The lithium-ion batteries, made by a unit of Osaka-based Sanyo, are used in Mitsubishi Electric Corp. handsets on NTT DoCoMo Inc.’s high-speed service. Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. confirmed it found six cases of burst batteries used in its Panasonic phones, responding to a Yomiuri newspaper report [see Japan Times in English]. Matsushita spokesman Junji Kanegawa said Sanyo wasn’t the battery maker, declining to name the manufacturer.

NEC Posts Increased First-Half Loss

NEC Corp., losing share to Sharp Corp. and Toshiba Corp. in Japan’s mobile-phone market, said its first- half loss widened fivefold because of a slump in sales. Shares of NEC have slid 35 percent since this year’s peak in April as Toshiba overtook the company in handset sales in the fiscal first-half. NEC today cut its mobile phone shipment target by 33 percent and said the business will post a 48 billion yen operating loss this fiscal year, instead of a previously forecast for a 15 billion yen loss.

World First 8GB SDHC Memory Card

Toshiba announced the global launch of the latest addition to its new series of high-capacity SDHC Memory Cards: the industry’s first 8-gigabyte Class 4 memory card. The new card will be introduced in early January 2007, alongside the 4GB products launched in September, and will give Toshiba a larger commercially available lineup in high performance SD Memory Cards. The SDHC (SD High Capacity) Memory Card is based on the SD Card Association’s SD Specifications Ver2.00, which defines high capacity, high performance enhancements to market-leading SD Memory Cards. The new card meets the Class 4 standard, a speed standard that requires a data write speed of at least 4GB/second. Toshiba is first in the industry to announce the launch of Class 4 8GB SDHC memory card.

Japan FTC to Investigate Qualcomm

Japan’s antitrust watchdog has told Qualcomm Inc.’s Japanese subsidiary that it may investigate its licensing and chip business practices in Japan, Qualcomm said on Thursday, sending its shares down more than 3 percent. The news comes after sources said last week that the European Commission is likely to intensify its investigation of Qualcomm’s patent licensing rates for a new generation of mobile phone technology. Japan’s Fair Trade Commission did not say when it might investigate the company or identify any complainant, Qualcomm said.

Wireless HD Coming in 2008

A collection of the biggest powers in consumer electronics, including LG, Matsushita (Panasonic), Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, and SiBEAM announced today that they are teaming together to ratify a standard for wireless high-def signal transmission. United as a technology group going under the name WirelessHD, the companies aim to have a finalized specification in spring 2007. The WirelessHD (WiHD) standard will allow for uncompressed, digital transmission of HD video and audio signals, essentially making it equivalent, in theory, to wireless HDMI.

NEC, Panasonic Form ESTEEMO

NEC Corp., Panasonic, and Panasonic Mobile Communications Co. Ltd., a unit of Matsushita, have formed a new company, ESTEEMO Co. Ltd. for the manufacture of mobile handsets. ESTEEMO was established based on an agreement signed by the three companies on July 27, 2006, and will carry out the development of mobile handsets, including the development of a common software and hardware platform.

NEC Bullish on IC Platform Performance

NEC Electronics is looking for a sharp increase in profitability based on sales of platform ICs, particularly for mobile phones, according to CEO Toshio Nakajima. Last year, NEC Electronics had an 11 per cent market share in WCDMA baseband chips, behind Texas Instruments (TI) 42 per cent market share and Qualcomm’s 26 per cent, according to analyst iSuppli. Behind the plan is the development of platform ICs such as those envisaged by the recent Adcore-Tech consortium between NEC, NEC Electronics, Matsushita, Panasonic Mobile and TI.