Report: Fujitsu To Launch Handsets In Europe. U.S. Next?

Fujitsu once said that it didn’t have any plans to launch mobile handsets outside of Asia, but that strategy appears to be changing rapidly. Today comes a report that the Japanese handset maker — which makes both Android and Windows Phone-based devices — is planning to start selling its devices in Europe, with a debut to take place next week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The news comes after Fujitsu said that it also planned to sell devices in the U.S. market either this year or 2013.

It’s not clear whether Fujitsu will lead on an Android or Windows Phone line of devices — or whether it will opt to sell both. A story in the FT that reported the European launch did not specify which devices would lead the charge. There are pros and cons to both:

Android is by far and away the most popular smartphone OS at the moment — with more than 50 percent market share as of Q4, according to Gartner — but while that means good news in terms of apps and other services for users, it would also pose a challenge for Fujitsu to create something that stands apart from the pack.

Microsoft’s Windows Phone, meanwhile, is a lot less common, leaving more room for Fujitsu to shine — but it’s also significantly less popular with developers and the consumer public. Gartner’s Q4 figures gave it a 1.9 percent share, while the Windows Phone app storefront currently only has around 50,000 apps, compared to the hundreds of thousands for Android.

The issue of needing to be distinctive when entering new markets is not one that has gone unnoticed by Fujitsu itself: “We don’t want to be just another mobile phone,” senior EVP Hideyuki Saso told AllThingsD back in January. “We want to be special.”

Fujitsu was one of the first handset makers to sign on to Windows Phone “Mango”, and it was actually the first handset maker to ship a Mango device. It’s been a key partner for Microsoft in its bid to make more of an impact on consumers in the Asian market. Some of the more innovative and “different” elements of its hardware, though, have come through on Android: waterproofing, very thin devices, and zany colors, like pink.