With the dominance of Apple and Samsung in the smartphone market, it is sometimes easy to overlook other large players in the race. But electronic component maker Kyocera doesn’t mind so much as it is trying to compete in a slightly different game.

Japanese smartphone manufacturers haven’t had it easy, both at home and abroad. Recently, NEC Corp has announced that it is completely pulling out from the smartphone business and Panasonic has decided to tone down its involvement. And while Kyocera is probably more known for devices other than smartphones, it isn’t quitting and will even be taking the battle to US soil, but won’t be taking the smartphone giants head on.

Instead, Kyocera will be focusing on a particular niche market, one that is, in some ways, beyond the reach of the delicate devices put out by Apple, Samsung and the rest of the gang, but is also desirable enough to be profitable. Kyocera believes that there is a good market for affordable, dust- and water-proof phones, and they have been churning out such devices this year, starting with the Kyocera Hydro XTRM and the Hydro EDGE last May, up to the still upcoming Hydro Elite. These phones sport mid-range hardware but could mostly withstand the torture that higher, and more expensive, phones wouldn’t even dream about.

Kyocera is banking on that strategy to push its name higher, which currently ranks fourth behind Apple, Samsung, and LG, owning a 5.3% share in the North American handset market. It is hoping a 9 percent increase in unit sales until March, with profits that it hopes would reach to 6.4 billion yen, roughly $64 million.

SOURCE: Reuters