A one-time giant in consumer electronics, Panasonic has rather faded from view in Western markets in the 21st century. Like all Japanese electronics manufacturers, it suffered a dramatic collapse in sales of what were once its most profitable products - TVs, VHS and DVD players - as a result of brutal competition in the 2000s from Samsung and other foreign competitors, and the shifting market. That added new urgency to a steady restructuring that had already been going on for several years. Until a change of name in 2008, Panasonic was just one of several brands controlled by what was then Matsushita Electric Industrial, alongside National, JVC and Technics. Together these made Matsushita the world's biggest consumer electronics company for much of the 1990s and early 2000s, ahead even of local rival Sony. However, the marketplace began to change dramatically mid-2000s, forcing MEI to alter its strategy. In 2008, the group adopted a new name of Panasonic Corporation, and began phasing out its smaller brands. It still makes consumer electronics - including Viera flat-screen TVs and Lumix digital cameras - but it sees a brighter future in areas such as household appliances, automotive batteries and other components (clients include Toyota and Tesla), domestic energy systems and industrial or commercial technology solutions. Kazuhiro Tsuga is CEO. Revenues for the year to Mar 2020 were approx $68.7bn, with net profit of $2.1bn. Japan accounted for almost half of that total, and Asia as a whole for over 70%. Kitchen and domestic appliances and "life solutions" (like lighting, energy systems and air purifiers) together account for more than half of revenues, and audiovisual products for less than 10%. The company was founded in 1918 by Konosuke Matsushita to make electric plugs and later battery-powered bicycle lamps, electric irons and other small appliances. By the mid-1960s it was Japan's largest manufacturer of domestic appliances. One of its most notable successes on the global stage was its development of the VHS home video format in the 1970s; followed by DVD technology in the 1990s. However a move to consolidate that position in Western markets with the purchase of the MCA Universal entertainment group proved disastrous, forcing a major reversal in corporate strategy.
Capsule checked 30th October 2020
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