Q&A: Fujitsu product marketing director James Maynard

Mobile World Congress: Japanese consumer electronics giant Fujitsu is set to launch its tablets and smartphones into markets outside of Asia for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2012. Marketing Week spoke to Fujitsu’s product marketing director James Maynard about the strategy for the launch.

Fujitsu

Marketing Week (MW): Why are you launching into mobile globally now in what is already a very fragmented market?

James Maynard (JM): Fujitsu is already a global business: there’s 170,000 employees globally across multiple regions and we’re not looking to launch just into Europe, but also North America and China.

There’s a few reasons why now is the right time. Over the last 12 to 24 months what we’ve been seeing in Japan is historically very different to elsewhere, it’s almost a Galapagos market.

Japan’s feature phones had a much richer experience than we’re used to, such as touch screens, web browsing and e-mails but they’re also migrating to smartphones now.

For the last four years in Japan they’ve been using an equivalent to NFC; the majority people on trains in Japan use their handset to go through ticket terminals, for example.

Traditional manufacturers like Apple, HTC and Samsung have noticed this trend and are using this knowledge to sell their handsets. Fujitsu already has 20% market share in Japan so we’re using all this historical insight to launch these products into new markets.

MW: What will the marketing direction be for your mobile proposition?

JM: The “Infinity” sign makes up part of the Fujitsu logo and we’ll be pulling that out more for the consumer market as our standardised branding for mobile.
Then when we look at our mobile handsets, a significant piece of work needs to be done to drive brand association so we will need to link with potential partners across Europe to help with that.

MW: How much of your marketing budget will be devoted towards your mobile launch as opposed to your other products this year?

JM: There is significant [multi-million pound] investment marketing-wise to launch into the consumer space across multiple segments.

We are evaluating what resources we already have supporting different areas of the business so it is impossible to say at this stage exactly how much that investment will be.

MW: One of the big themes of Mobile World Congress has been the connections between multiple devices, from phones to fridges – is interconnectivity one of your themes given your already sizeable consumer electronics business?

JM: It’s a theme already in the marketplace and we will be looking at how we use the technologies we already have to deliver those solutions and services supported by the operators.

So, for example, within the smartphone product we have something called a “human centric engine”, which is a package of multiple technologies to enhance the consumer experience, across audio, visual, wellness and security.

It spans things like dual mic technology to strip the background noise out of the call or making devices fully waterproof. We’re moving devices from being more task-orientated as more people orientated.

It’s very modest in its approach as it’s very passive because the technology can adapt real time to the environment you are in – such as turning up the volume when you are outside, or changing the frequency you hear a phone call at depending on your age,

Human centric technology allows us to span multiple demographics and segments because it changes depending on who you are

MW: Is your core demographic early technology adopters? Your messaging at your stand this year seems very gadget-orientated; “world’s thinnest smartphone”, “quad core” and so on.

JM: It’s one of our demographics, but they are still under evaluation. High quality is expected from a Japanese company which immediately attracts a certain segment of the market, but it also applies to people who are using a smartphone for the first time. It ultimately comes down to which partners we launch with.

MW: What kind of business metrics will be most important for you to define your success in the mobile market?

JM: Brand awareness is important for any launch in the consumer space.

Sales volume plays less of a part of for us as it’s more about sustainability, so we are looking for partnerships for growth in the long term. A lot of Japanese manufacturers have entered and quickly left the European market. If we set a volume target it will be forever held up for us to try and beat it, but it’s not the core focus of the business.

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