By James Wells in Osaka

OSAKA: Sharp Corporation of Australia is looking to introduce a built-in kitchen appliance that will represent the microwave version of the ‘dishdrawer’ which the company hopes will reinforce its position as the local market leader by value in the category.

“Users just have to press a button and a microwave drawer opens slowly, and once the food has been placed inside it closes slowly as well,” said Sharp Corporation of Australia deputy managing director, Denis Kerr.

“For those consumers concerned about children’s fingers, a sensor in the unit detects if there is anything obstructing the door before it closes."

The product has been released into the American market, which has a 70cm configuration, but Sharp Australia has asked for a 60cm configuration to match the correct specification for the Australian market.

“This is an example of how we are looking to differentiate ourselves and add value to maintain some growth in the non-commodity area of the category, which is where some of our competitors are placing a lot of emphasis just so that they can tick a box and say they are market leader in units," said Kerr.

“To me you are only a market leader if you are able to be profitable in what you are doing. You only have to go into the Australian Securities Commissions results and see the net equity position of certain major brands to see those companies that have little future in the market,” Kerr said.

The ‘microwave drawer’ is expected to be introduced in the new Japanese financial year, which commences on 1 April 2007.

“Something like the drawer microwave is a niche market and therefore we are looking to major appliance specialists who have the capability to sell this type of product.”