In the 2000s, the industry fell behind in the global ranking and struggled to maintain its leading role, especially in the lucrative smartphone market. This downturn led to financial constraints for major general electrical manufacturers such as Toshiba Corporation and Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd., which reacted by selling off parts of their consumer electronics related portfolios. Sharp Corporation, established in 1912 in Tokyo, became the first large Japanese electronics manufacturer to be placed under the jurisdiction of a company overseas when it joined with the Taiwanese electronics company Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd (Foxconn Technology Group) in 2016. Recently, the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has put the industry under further pressure and increased fears of a recession for the Japanese economy as a whole.
A lot of companies that once were considered large manufacturers of general electronics have shifted their focus to other industries like the energy sector. Other companies, such as Panasonic Corporation, Hitachi, Ltd., and Sony Corporation, continue to generate stable profits from consumer electronics. Some of their recently introduced home appliances are equipped with internet of things (IoT) systems. These appliances can be accessed and controlled remotely by smartphones. Panasonic, for example, extended the home appliances business to ‘smart homes’ under the trade name ‘HomeX’ in 2018. Other manufacturers, such as Hitachi, increasingly promoted consumer electronics with integrated Artificial Intelligence (AI) - washing machines with automated load balancing for instance. Consumer electronics with IoT capabilities and AI can be expected to further increase in importance in the Japanese consumer electronics industry.