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Panasonic Unveils 'Eluga,' a Smartphone for the European Market

Panasonic has released the Eluga, an Android (News - Alert)-based smartphone for Europeans, just in time for Mobile World Congress. The phone only weighs 103 grams and measures 7.88 millimeters thick, making it the world’s second-thinnest handset behind the Huawei P1S.

Panasonic (News - Alert) withdrew from the European market in 2006 to concentrate fully on Japan, where it became the first manufacturer to successfully market a 3G mobile phone. In Japan, the electronics powerhouse commands 20 percent of the mobile phone market share. According to Laurent Abadie, European Chairman and Chief Executive for Panasonic, the time is right to launch in Europe. Only 32 percent of Europeans own a smartphone, and the market grew nearly 47 percent last year.

The Eluga handset runs on Android 2.3 with an update scheduled to come out in the summer. However, analysts point out that with a bevy of Android phones running on Ice Cream Sandwich about to be introduced at Mobile World Congress, the Eluga will already be playing catch-up.

The phone also has a 1GHz dual core processor and a 4.3-inch screen with a resolution of 960x540. In addition, the phone has an 8 megapixel camera on the back. Eluga also features NFC functionality in anticipation of the penetration of NFC into the European market. Eluga also integrates with Panasonic’s Viera Smart TV, allowing users to upload photos, video and even websites for television viewing. The set features no buttons on the face of the phone and has located buttons on the side so that they are not accidentally hit while the phone is in use.

The name “Eluga” signifies EL as in “elegant design,” U as in “user-oriented,” and GA as in “gateway for networking service,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The Telegraph reported that the name meant simply, “Elegant User Gateway (News - Alert).”

Panasonic hopes to sell 1.5 million Eluga handsets this year and over 15 million by 2015. The waterproof phone is scheduled to come to market in April. Panasonic has stated that its continued focus will be on catering to the high-end, expensive and more profitable mobile phone market.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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