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Panasonic History:
1996

Releasing the Industry's First-ever Digital Mobile Phone Weighing Less than 100g


In the ’90s, the popularization of mobile phones and personal handy-phone systems (PHS) greatly changed modes of telecommunication. The mobile phone was a portable version of the shoulder phone that had been used in automobiles and was being manufactured in smaller and smaller sizes as the charges for use also dropped drastically. PHS represented a new phase of development in cordless phones and took on popularity among the young as a low-cost version of the cell phone. Amid these changes, the number of mobile phone users spiraled ever upwards.

Since the start of car telephone services in Japan in 1979, we at Panasonic have aggressively pursued the information-telecommunication business with Matsushita Communication Industrial at the helm. In April 1994, Japan saw the rental system replaced by a new system in which mobile handsets were sold individually, and manufacturers consequently each set about releasing new models equipped with their own functions. Against this backdrop, Panasonic led the way in the development of digital mobile phones smaller in size and lighter in weight.

In October 1996, we supplied NTT Mobile Communications Network Inc. (currently NTT DOCOMO Inc.) with the Digital “Mova” P201HYPER, the industry's first-ever mobile weighing less than 100g, and saw that become a huge hit. This was followed by a succession of innovative handsets that would lead the market.

Though mobile phone handsets had been used for talking, in February 1999 NTT DOCOMO started the “i-mode” service and then in January 2001 initiated the “i-appli” service. This emergence of application services linked to the Internet facilitated the evolution of handsets for serious Internet use. With the next-generation mobile communications services which began that October, we saw the advent of mobile multimedia handsets that accommodate video phones and all varieties of visual/music players.

Panasonic supplies wi-fi base station equipment to NTT DOCOMO for next-generation mobile telephone services that make use of W-CDMA, the international standard. In terms of both the planning and development of handsets, we continue to promote operations aimed at making us a total supplier of next-generation mobile phones, extending as far as the area of infrastructure equipment.

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