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Fujitsu eyes improved designs, consumer push

Company executive admits its PC designs could use a little work, but loves the profits that cell phones generate.

CORONADO, Calif.--Give Fujitsu's Toshio Morohoshi credit: he knows exactly where his company needs to improve.

"We're not Sony," which is known for its design, Morohoshi, Fujitsu's corporate vice president and executive officer, said during an afternoon conversation with Strategic News Service's Mark Anderson at the Future in Review conference. "Sony's design is better because of our heritage." Morohoshi was referring to Fujitsu's legacy in the U.S., where it's viewed mainly as company selling ultraportable laptops and high-end servers to corporate customers, which tend to be less design-focused.

In Japan, Fujitsu sells all kinds of electronic gear, and Morohoshi thinks its work on cell phones and small desktops could help it break into other markets. The company has been a top-five PC company in past years if you count its Fujitsu-Siemens subsidiary, which has a stronghold in Europe.

But the PC market has shifted toward consumer buying fueled by demand for larger, less expensive notebooks than Fujitsu's trademark ultraportables and tablet PCs. As a result, Acer and Toshiba have surpassed Fujitsu in worldwide sales as Fujitsu-Siemens grows more slowly than the overall market.

Still, Fujitsu is enjoying surging demand for cell phones. "We're making pretty good money. Don't tell NTT DoCoMo," Morohoshi joked, referring to Japan's largest wireless carrier. He discussed a new service gaining popularity in Japan where parents can give their children a cell phone with an RFID (radio frequency identification) chip, and the parents receive a notification when their child enters school grounds and passes by a RFID reader.

Improving Fujitsu's design to become on a par with Sony's is a priority, as well as improving Fujitsu's sales into China, Morohoshi said. "We are struggling to (do) business in China," he said, citing past political flareups as problems. But the climate has changed of late, he said, making Fujitsu hopeful it can tap into China's growing demand for PCs.