Panasonic to expand Lumix brand to phones

Panasonic is expanding its Lumix digital camera brand to cell phones and will unveil its first “Lumix Phone” at next week’s Ceatec electronics show in Japan, the company said Friday.

The phone will have a 13-megapixel image sensor and a 3.3-inch screen. These specifications are about equivalent to a Panasonic compact digital camera and put the phone ahead of most other handsets, although it probably won’t be able to beat images from dedicated cameras.

It has a digital zoom and features a mobile version of Panasonic’s VenusEngine image processing chip. It will also offer picture sharing over Wi-Fi and DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) networks, the company said.

The phone will measure 11.6 centimeters by 5.2cm by 1.8cm, which makes it much closer in size to a current model Panasonic cell phone than a camera.

As cell phones have become more powerful and feature rich, several major consumer electronics companies have used camera and TV brand names on some high-end handsets.

Panasonic has used its Viera flat-panel TV brand name on some phones that feature advanced TV functions. Sony and Sharp have done the same with their Bravia and Aquos brands. Among camera makers, Casio has marketed Exilim-brand phones, and Sony has taken the Cybershot name to handsets.

The companies do this to emphasize the features related to the brand names they are extending. For example, with a 13-megapixel image sensor and image processing engine, Panasonic’s planned Lumix Phone is likely to surpass other phones in photo quality.

Panasonic is one of Japan’s largest cell-phone makers, but it doesn’t sell its advanced models overseas. Barring a change in its strategy, the Lumix Phone is unlikely to be seen in markets outside of Japan.

Ceatec runs in Makuhari Messe near Tokyo from Tuesday until Saturday.

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