TDK gets lifeline from China’s rising smartphone stars

TOKYO: Japan’s TDK Corp, an electronics parts maker that has struggled to make a profit while several of its peers grew rich in the smartphone boom, has found help rebuilding its fortunes with the rise of China’s smartphone makers, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

Once a leading brand in cassette tapes that later prospered in magnetic heads for hard disk drives until the PC business headed south, TDK fell behind rivals such as Murata Manufacturing Ltd in making tiny, high-spec parts for mobile gadgets like Apple Inc’s iPhones and iPads.

But it has shifted its product strategy towards SAW filters, a key mobile phone part that sorts out unnecessary radio signals, and ramped up output, and has seen a surge in orders from low-cost Chinese rivals to Apple and Samsung Electronics Co, the world’s dominant smartphone makers.

“We were late to get in, but now Chinese demand is growing,” TDK President Takehiro Kamigama told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday, emphasising opportunities with home-grown handset makers in the world’s number-one smartphone market.

“I think sales at the established Chinese handset makers will grow — Until now Chinese makers’ market was only domestic but now about thirty per cent of their sales are abroad, in emerging markets,” he said.

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