NEC out of the smartphone game: They were too late and too ugly

NEC(s NIPNF) announced Wednesday that it is officially pulling out of the smartphone business.

“We were late to enter the smartphone market, and we were unable to develop attractive products. That’s what it comes down to,” said Chief Financial Officer Isamu Kawashima.

NEC was reportedly in talks with Lenovo, hoping to sell off its smartphone segment, but that broke down earlier this month without the companies striking a deal.

The Japanese manufacturer will end the development, production and sales of smartphones immediately, aside from models currently on the market. Continued support will be provided for existing models.

But this doesn’t mean NEC has pulled out of the mobile space completely. It will continue to develop and produce feature phones and tablets.

While the company was once the biggest phone manufacturer in Japan, it never gained much traction in the US. NEC merged its phone operations with Casio and Hitachi back in 2010. Since then, we’ve seen most of the action happen under the Casio brand, with rugged phones featuring the Casio G’zOne moniker.

NEC recently released the Android-based Casio G’zOne Commando and the NEC Terrain, rugged smartphones for Verizon Wireless(s vz)(s vod) and AT&T(s t), respectively. You may want to think twice before buying either of those, if you can find them.