The lights are off in the lobby of JVC Kenwood (6632) Corp.’s headquarters in Yokohama and there’s no one to greet guests. It’s what’s become a typical weekday afternoon.
The pioneer of the VHS video tape and maker of Japan’s first television set is bracing for tough times. Earnings from car navigation devices — the hit product that emerged as JVC sales of camcorders and audiovisual systems slumped in the smartphone revolution — are under pressure. Some car owners have decided an iPhone can guide them just as well.
Companies like JVC, that were once at the heart of a consumer electronics export empire, are struggling to shape their own destiny. Their fall is pushing Japan’s entire electrical machinery industry, which regularly generated trade surpluses of 7 trillion yen ($67 billion) until 2007, toward deficits that may emerge as soon as next year, UBS AG estimates.
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