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Japan-Update

Sharp eyes steep increase in smart appliance sales in Japan

Updates will enhance the functionality of the net-enabled white goods

OSAKA -- Sharp aims for cumulative sales of 3 million internet-enabled appliances in Japan by fiscal 2019, up from only about 30,000 as of last fiscal year -- an ambitious goal that will see it introduce new air conditioners, refrigerators and other models.

The appliance business shouldn't "end when you buy the hardware," Executive Managing Officer Masahiro Okitsu told reporters Monday. "Going forward, products whose hardware continues to grow after the purchase will catch on."

The Japan-based electronics group, which is majority owned by Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry, seeks growth in what it calls AIoT -- artificial intelligence and the internet of things -- a field encompassing connected appliances.

Sharp intends to work with other manufacturers to make these products compatible with smart speakers like the Amazon Echo series or Apple's HomePod. It also looks to expand smart appliance sales and related services to China, the U.S. and other markets.

Just last month, Sharp released an electronic hot pot, the Healsio Hotcook, that can suggest recipes based on meals the user has cooked in the past. A meal kit delivery service for the product has also been launched, allowing users to order the ingredients for a suggested recipe.

Sharp aims to sell more than 1 trillion yen ($8.82 billion) in AIoT and other products and services in its smart-home segment by fiscal 2019, up from around 550 billion yen in fiscal 2016.

(Nikkei)

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