Rumours are swirling over the future of the Sharp brand’s future after a report in the Japanese Nikkei newspaper indicated that that Sharp were looking to talk to Vestel about buying back the license.
Vestel responded and we got a note on Reuters that stated:
“Media reports sourced by Japan's Nikkei newspaper stating that Sharp Corporation to start talks with company's unit Vestel Ticaret regarding buy back of brand licence rights of production and sales/marketing of white goods in Europe don't reflect the reality
The aforementioned licence agreement with Sharp Corp. is valid until 2020”
We went on the hunt to find the fire to go with the smoke.
Turns out that Foxconn now own Sharp. Foxconn is the huge Taiwanese company that makes slews of Apple products, including iPhones, iPads and so on so they’re a pretty big deal in the tech world and, a huge company.
Well according to the report from Nikkei Foxconn paid up all the shares of Sharp around the middle of August and now is looking to buy back all the rights around the world that third parties have, like Vestel for Europe to sell appliances produced by Vestel using the Sharp name.
So Hisense has the same sort of deal in the USA and it looks as if that may also be a target of this buy-back strategy by Foxconn.
Also in the frame is a Slovakian company called UMC that makes TV products under the Sharp banner.
This begs the question for the whitegoods industry, does this mean that Foxconn is looking to enter the appliance market worldwide and if they are, how?
We guess we’ll just have to wait and see what pans out.
New Smart Appliances
While all this is going on as usual at this time of the year, what with IFA ongoing in Berlin, the press releases on new products come thick and fast with this announcement being for new smart appliances from Sharp.
We all know that Sharp appliances in Europe are just rebadged Vestel products which are, well let’s just say they’re not exactly at the top end of the market. Apart from which Vestel seem to make a huge mass of the own label products that we see sold through as retailer own brands.
With this new range however it would seem that Vestel, using Sharp as the brand for it, seem to have aspirations in the mid to upper market sector. That’s a big leap.
With the not-so-catchy monicker of the Next Gen Smart Zone Vestel are introducing a raft of “smart” appliances that they say go beyond the ability to check status and starting them up.
The info we have so far indicates that programs and setting can be changed remotely as well as the usual stuff we see but what we cannot fathom is why anyone would want to. We mean, if the machine is on you’ve kinda already set it up to do what you need and, if not you’ve got to go load it up or whatever anyway so quite why you would need this functionality escapes us.
Whether people are prepared to pay for this functionality remains to be seen as, thus far, connected appliances haven’t exactly been a rip roaring success, quite the reverse for reasons that regular readers here will be all too familiar with.
But here’s a potted summary of the new stuff anyway.
The “smart” one allows you to adjust the spin speed and temperature remotely and, mhm, that’s about it other than the usual on/off and program end notification that we would expect.
For the privilege of that you get to pay about £649. For a Vestel.
For us, no thanks. You can probably get the same mechanics in the same or another brand for half that money or less.
In what seems to be relatively new ground for Vestel they’ve got a French four door fridge freezer, one of the American style side by side affairs with tow doors on top that open to reveal a huge fridge the full width of the machine as shown above.
The remote functions allow people to put it on a quick chill mode or bung it on a holiday mode.
So according to updated reports this fridge can allow users to also control their oven, washing machine and dishwasher so long as they are also connected and presumably the same “4LifeHub” enabled. In other words, like most unless your appliances are all the same brand this is pretty much a waste of space.
But really, what’s the point, they’re usually all in the one kitchen!
Big 21” display on it though.
AdaptiZone, a handy feature that lets you convert freezer compartments into additional fridge space much the same as Beko and other fridge freezers that are of the same ilk. Sharp also claims that NutriFresh technology helps your greens retain up to 60% more of their moisture.
For us, that’s not a lot really and with a £1799 price ticket, not cheap.
You could just buy a similar Beko model at half that cost, an iPad, a Sonos, a TV and possibly still have change!
We finally saw something here that was at least a bit interesting and sort of new. The dishwasher in the range will pop the door open at the end of the cycle to allow steam to escape and reportedly allow your dishes to dry better.
In addition you can also get some remote functions and turn on quiet mode although, quite what the point of doing that is if you’re not there we wish someone could tell us.
The Love2Cook oven seems to be the kind of showcase products with it having a 150 recipes onboard and a temperature probe that can be remotely monitored.
Whether that functionality is worth paying £550 to get is, for us, highly debatable.