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.
A DVD player, the DVD-A300, was the company's first DVD (digital video disc) player for the moving picture media and was capable of recording one complete 2-hour movie.
DVD players are audio-visual equipment used for home entertainment with high quality digital image and sound, together with multiple functions unique to DVD. To make the most of the attractive software to be released after the introduction of the hardware, the player was developed on a design concept of "high reliability," "outstanding performance", "improved functions", and "ease of use" employing the company's unique optical disc and digital technology.
The world's first wide-size 26-inch plasma display, the TH-26PD1, was produced in 1996.
A "wall-hanging display" was employed, made possible by bigger yet thinner screens, something not possible with liquid-crystal or CRT displays.