Sharp Corp <6753.T> plans to start selling its Galapagos tablet computer in the United States in the second half of this year, and is ironing out deals with major media and content providers, the head of the company's U.S. unit said on Wednesday.
The firm also plans to launch a 70-inch television, Kozo Takahashi told reporters at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Sharp's tablet runs on a Linux operating system in Japan and comes in either 5.5 inch or 10.8 inch screen sizes, but these specifications and the product name may be changed for the U.S. market, executives said.
In televisions, Sharp is seeking ways to boost production at its state-of-the-art liquid-crystal display plant in Japan, which may fall below expectations after media reports that client Sony <6758.T> would boost panel orders from cheaper Asian rivals.
Our Sakai 10th generation plant is currently the only place in the world where 70-inch panels can be produced efficiently, Takahashi told a group of reporters, adding that sales of large TVs had performed better than smaller models in the United States in recent months.
The first 70-inch model will be launched in May in the United States, but the company is considering selling them in other markets, including China. Sharp is also considering 3D versions of the large-screen TVs.
Sharp aims to sell 15 million televisions in the year to March, up from 10 million the previous year. But its heavy domestic focus means the company will be hard hit by a slump in the Japanese TV market expected this year.
Domestic TV sales boomed in 2010, thanks to a government incentive scheme aimed at getting consumers to buy environmentally friendly appliances and the switch to digital terrestrial broadcasting planned for July 2011.
Total 2011 TV sales in Japan are expected to shrivel to about half the 23 million estimated for 2010.
(Reporting by Isabel Reynolds; Editing by Joseph Radford)