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Riches in niches: U.S. cops, in-flight movies may be model for Panasonic survival

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Panasonic Toughpad (L) and handheld Toughbook model are displayed at the company's IT products headquarters in Moriguchi, western Japan December 7, 2012. Panasonic Corp's answer to the brutal onslaught on its TV sales may be in a product the Japanese firm launched 17 years ago and which is a must-have for U.S. police cars. Two thirds of the 420,000 patrol cars in the United States are equipped with the company's rugged Toughbook...more

Panasonic Toughpad (L) and handheld Toughbook model are displayed at the company's IT products headquarters in Moriguchi, western Japan December 7, 2012. Panasonic Corp's answer to the brutal onslaught on its TV sales may be in a product the Japanese firm launched 17 years ago and which is a must-have for U.S. police cars. Two thirds of the 420,000 patrol cars in the United States are equipped with the company's rugged Toughbook computers, and Panasonic chief Kazuhiro Tsuga sees the niche product as a model for how the sprawling conglomerate can make money beyond a gadget mass market increasingly dominated by Samsung Electronics and Apple Inc. Picture taken December 7, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Kelly
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Hide Harada, director of IT products of Panasonic Corp, poses with the company's Toughbook laptop (L) and Toughpad tablet at his business unit's headquarters in Moriguchi, western Japan December 7, 2012. Panasonic Corp's answer to the brutal onslaught on its TV sales may be in a product the Japanese firm launched 17 years ago and which is a must-have for U.S. police cars. Two thirds of the 420,000 patrol cars in the United States...more

Hide Harada, director of IT products of Panasonic Corp, poses with the company's Toughbook laptop (L) and Toughpad tablet at his business unit's headquarters in Moriguchi, western Japan December 7, 2012. Panasonic Corp's answer to the brutal onslaught on its TV sales may be in a product the Japanese firm launched 17 years ago and which is a must-have for U.S. police cars. Two thirds of the 420,000 patrol cars in the United States are equipped with the company's rugged Toughbook computers, and Panasonic chief Kazuhiro Tsuga sees the niche product as a model for how the sprawling conglomerate can make money beyond a gadget mass market increasingly dominated by Samsung Electronics and Apple Inc. Picture taken December 7, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Kelly
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STAFF

Panasonic's Toughbook computer undergoes water resistance testing at a factory of the company in Kobe, western Japan December 7, 2012. Panasonic Corp's answer to the brutal onslaught on its TV sales may be in a product the Japanese firm launched 17 years ago and which is a must-have for U.S. police cars. Two thirds of the 420,000 patrol cars in the United States are equipped with the company's rugged Toughbook computers, and...more

Panasonic's Toughbook computer undergoes water resistance testing at a factory of the company in Kobe, western Japan December 7, 2012. Panasonic Corp's answer to the brutal onslaught on its TV sales may be in a product the Japanese firm launched 17 years ago and which is a must-have for U.S. police cars. Two thirds of the 420,000 patrol cars in the United States are equipped with the company's rugged Toughbook computers, and Panasonic chief Kazuhiro Tsuga sees the niche product as a model for how the sprawling conglomerate can make money beyond a gadget mass market increasingly dominated by Samsung Electronics and Apple Inc. Picture taken December 7, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Kelly
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Photographer
STAFF

Workers assemble Panasonic's Toughbook computers at a factory of the company in Kobe, western Japan December 7, 2012. Panasonic Corp's answer to the brutal onslaught on its TV sales may be in a product the Japanese firm launched 17 years ago and which is a must-have for U.S. police cars. Two thirds of the 420,000 patrol cars in the United States are equipped with the company's rugged Toughbook computers, and Panasonic chief...more

Workers assemble Panasonic's Toughbook computers at a factory of the company in Kobe, western Japan December 7, 2012. Panasonic Corp's answer to the brutal onslaught on its TV sales may be in a product the Japanese firm launched 17 years ago and which is a must-have for U.S. police cars. Two thirds of the 420,000 patrol cars in the United States are equipped with the company's rugged Toughbook computers, and Panasonic chief Kazuhiro Tsuga sees the niche product as a model for how the sprawling conglomerate can make money beyond a gadget mass market increasingly dominated by Samsung Electronics and Apple Inc. Picture taken December 7, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Kelly
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