Sanyo Electric Co, Ltd unveiled a new mobile phone with an organic EL panel at a press conference Jan. 21.
Sanyo has been conducting field tests by using 300 prototypes since the end of December. The tests are scheduled to last for six months. Sanyo said if the test results do not show any problems, it will start commercial production of the new phone in the summer of 2003.
In October 2001, NTT DoCoMo Inc released “FOMA N2001,” a mobile phone developed by NEC Corp that has an organic EL panel for its main display. The EL panel used for the phone was made by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd in South Korea. Sanyo’s mobile phone with an organic EL panel is the first such product that appeared since NTT announced FOMA N2001 18 months ago.
Sanyo’s prototype is equipped with a 2-in. organic EL panel. It is not a folding type, which in Japan is currently the mainstay type of mobile phone. The phone has a keyboard under its display, and the keyboard appears when the display is slid upward (photo). Also, the phone has two CCD modules, one on its front side and the other, on its back, similar to the configuration of NTT DoCoMo’s “P504iS.”
Sanyo announced on Jan. 16, 2003 that it will launch mass production of full-color organic EL panels in cooperation with U.S.-based Eastman Kodak Co. The company plans to establish, before the end of 2003, a manufacturing system that allows it to produce 1 million panels per month, including small panels designed for mobile phones.
Sanyo expects that the market for medium and large-sized panels with a display size of 5.5 inches and larger to be used for various equipment, such as car navigation systems, will expand from about 2004. Thus, the company plans to invest 70 billion yen in the development of the EL panels in fiscal 2005.
As for the shipment of CCD modules designed for phones to other companies, Kuwano said that although the modules are currently in short supply, Sanyo will sharply increase the module production, aiming to expand its annual sales of the modules to 100 billion yen before the end of fiscal 2005.
Sanyo predicts that the global market for mobile phones with a built-in camera will expand rapidly, and that the annual sales of the phones will top 150 million units before the end of 2005. The company will invest a total of 45 billion yen in the development of new phones with a built-in camera by fiscal 2005 to prepare for the upcoming boom of such phones.