(Reuters) - Japanese companies Fujitsu and Panasonic plan to enter the European smartphone market as rivals Apple and Sony have piled on the pressure in their previously-isolated home market.
Japanese handset makers have struggled to compete outside the country, in part owing to a focus on technology for the domestic market.
Panasonic on Monday unveiled its first model for the European market, the Eluga, which will be on sale from April.
"The push into the European smartphone market makes sense given the limited room for growth back in Japan. However, the challenge they will face to gain traction is huge," said Dominic Sunnebo, analyst at research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.
Panasonic aims to sell 1.5 million smartphones in Europe during its next fiscal year to March 2013.
Fujitsu, already a large handset and tablet maker in Japan with about a fifth of the market, is also planning to bring a range of smartphones and tablets to the European market.
Fujitsu is still in negotiations with operators and specific launches and timetables are yet to be agreed upon, a spokeswoman for the company said.
Earlier the Financial Times said the company was targeting a "double-digit" market share in the next three to five years.
(Reporting by Tarmo Virki, additional reporting by Stephen Mangan; Editing by Richard Pullin and Helen Massy-Beresford)