When news came out that South Korean company Samsung Electronics Co. bought a 3% stake in Japanese electronics company Sharp Corp., many bloggers were furious and accused Sharp of “selling its soul.” Many Japanese users have made known their feelings via Twitter and Facebook, saying that “Sharp is betraying Japan.” Of course, there are still those who were very rational in analyzing the risks and benefits involved in this team-up.
Those opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the general public’s, of course. But they do say a lot about the people’s frustration over the currently struggling industry of consumer electronics in Japan. The industry has been a source of national pride during the 1980s and 1990s, especially with the release of items like Sony’s revolutionary Walkman. Today, unfortunately, the top two dominating companies in the global industry comes from South Korea and the United States, that is, Samsung and Apple. While Sharp and its other Japanese contemporaries garner huge support within Japan, it is not enough to compete in the world market.
Right now, Sharp is debt-ridden and this deal with Samsung could very well help it to convince bank lenders that its business is still thriving and remains competitive. The $111 million investment that Samsung is set to make effectively makes it Sharp’s fifth largest shareholder with its 3% stake.