Panasonic ‘toughens up’ cordless phone category

By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: Panasonic, the worldwide number one cordless phone supplier, is currently promoting its range of in-home communications solutions. After a very successful first quarter (April-June 2009), driven by impressive Mother’s Day sales, the focus is now on the end-of-year months leading into Christmas.

In an interview with Current.com.au today, Panasonic category marketing manager, mobile AV, Alistair Robins, talked about the ongoing shift towards DECT cordless phone technology. The DECT frequency band is 1.8GHz, whereas the DSS frequency bands are 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz.

Robins said that of the major frequencies for cordless phones, DECT is proving the most popular in overseas markets, with over 70 per cent of United States models now using that format. Second in the US is DSS, at just under 20 per cent.

Robins expects this trend to appear in the Australian market over the longer term, and is positioning Panasonic’s product offering to reflect that view.

Panasonic’s range of cordless phones is built around demonstrable feature improvements as you go up the range. Product manager from home communications, Lisa Funnell, said that this stimulates upselling, with retailers able to show potential consumers exactly why they should move up to the higher end models.

At the top end of the range is the 83 Series. This range features talking voicemail, caller ID, night mode and incoming call barring. Once a base is purchased, users can expand up to six handsets.

Rather than sell additional handsets solely from the 83 series, Panasonic is encouraging retailers to cross sell the new Shock and Splash tough model (648 series). This DECT handset, which is RRP $99 as a stand-alone, or RRP $199 as the full bundle, can be used with the 83 series. Because it’s shock proof and splash proof (though not water proof in the same way a watch might be), this is a good option for consumers looking for a phone for their outdoor area or poolside.

The impetus behind making this product is twofold. Firstly, it aligns with Panasonic’s overall toughness reputation, highlight by its Toughbook range of notebooks and its FT1 rugged hybrid camera with High Definition video. Secondly, as Funnell explained, there is a definite user need for a more rugged cordless phone option.

“We know cordless phones aren’t treated well, so we’ve made a phone to resist that abuse,” she said.

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