In the early 2000s the Japanese mobile phone handset market was saturated, so handset manufacturer Company G decided to turn its attention to the overseas market. Hitachi High-Technologies made a sales pitch on its business experience in handsets for the North American market and proposed that the two companies collaborate on a mobile phone business project for the U.S. market. Company H, the top mobile phone carrier in the U.S., was selected as the target.
Hitachi High-Technologies determined that to get the project started quickly it would be essential to work together with Company I, a vendor for Company H. Once an agreement was reached with Company I, negotiations with Company H started in 2005.
Company G had also become interested in the possibilities presented by “water and impact resistant tough handsets,” a niche product category. Hitachi High Technologies America (HTA), the subsidiary responsible for local market research, prepared a product proposal for Company H and lead the development work. By providing extensive support to the customer, including hiring new engineers, helping solve the customer’s technical issues, arranging third-party certification testing, and assisting with customer certification testing, they were able to get the business started quickly.
Following the launch of the first-generation model in October 2006, HTA took charge of branding, promotion, and marketing for the North American market. By utilizing the Japanese and American networks of the Hitachi High-Technologies Group, they successfully established the “tough handset” as a viable market category. This is an excellent example of successful business development through the application of “trading company” expertise.