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Handhelds Hardware

Sharp Plans To Pull Zaurus From U.S. Market 302

Posted by timothy
from the darn-shame dept.
Eugenia writes "Facing stiff competition and low sales, a Sharp representative has informed InfoSyncWorld that the company has decided to fully withdraw its Zaurus SL line of Linux-based handhelds from the U.S. market and focus on its home market in Japan. The recent similar withdraws of Sony and Toshiba pretty much left PalmOne and RIM fighting alone HP and Dell in a saturated PDA market inundated with U.S. brands. People don't seem to be willing to pay a premium for gadgets and alternative systems, and primarily in the corporate market customers prefer to buy from the same suppliers as for their corporate hardware."
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Sharp Plans To Pull Zaurus From U.S. Market

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  • Linux is great.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dcstimm (556797) on Monday October 18, 2004 @05:34PM (#10560047) Homepage
    But you need to be ultra competitive feature wise for a Linux enabled pda to take off. I am a linux nut and I see no need for a PDA that runs linux on it. hell maybe if it had a ethernet jack on it and a full size keyboard, oh wait thats a laptop...
    • by Carnildo (712617) on Monday October 18, 2004 @05:38PM (#10560075) Homepage Journal
      I'd have bought a Zarus PDA if I had been able to find one that had the features I was looking for: a greyscale screen, low weight, no backlight, and a long battery life. Oh yes, and one that didn't cost $400+.

      Instead, I got a $99 Palm Zire 21. Meets my needs exactly.
    • Re:Linux is great.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Colonel Panic (15235) on Monday October 18, 2004 @05:38PM (#10560078)
      hell maybe if it had a ethernet jack on it

      Actually, it's pretty easy to put a CF Wifi card in one (I've got an SL-5500) and use it to surf the web and check email when you're out and about. They're a lot smaller than a laptop and much easier to carry around.

      Oh, and full size keyboards are available.
      • An ethernet (RJ-45, UTP technically, no BNC here :p) jack would be excellent. If you do any sort of network testing, a good tap and ethereal would be a godsend.
      • by rusty0101 (565565)
        For those bemoning the lack of an ethernet adapter, have a look at the Hawking Technology H-CF686TX 10/100 Fast Ethernet Network Adapter.

        Since it is CF based, I would be really surprised if it could seriously keep up with a 100 mbps saturated network stream, but for just about anything else it should work out fine for you.

        I have had one for about a year now, and have found that it works without searching for additional drivers, etc.

        If you are attempting to sniff a network that is prone to broadcast storm
    • by elid (672471)
      I see no need for a PDA that runs linux on it.But you see a reason for a PDA to run Windows? If they run Windows, why not Linux?
      • Re:Linux is great.. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by radish (98371) on Monday October 18, 2004 @06:12PM (#10560315) Homepage
        PocketPC is Windows in name only, there's very little common ground from a code point of view.

        My question is this: Why should the consumer care what OS is on the device? Why should they pay a premium for an alternative OS? People buy PDAs by functionality and if your Linux/PocketPC/PalmOS/whatever based solution doesn't have the right functionality it won't (and doesn't deserve to) survive.

        Personally, I used to be a Palm boy but not have an iPaq 4155, which is tiny, and has built in bluetooth and wifi. Yes it's less reliable than the palm and obviously has worse battery life. But the wireless options and screen quality sell it to me. Personally I couldn't give a monkey's what OS it runs provided I can sync to my desktop PC, and run my GPS nav software.
        • Re:Linux is great.. (Score:3, Interesting)

          by madstork2000 (143169) *
          I have a 4155 too. I like the hardware, but the Windows OS does drive me crazy. I had to buy software to connect to smb shares and FTP and other "standard" things I do on Linux.

          I truely miss linux on this machine and continually check various website for the day I can take the shackles off this truely nice little machine.

          I'd like to use rsync, I'd like to use kopete, I'd like a real browser. I wish I didn;t have to pay $25 bucks for every little application the improves upon the slop that MS provides.

          T
        • Personally, I used to be a Palm boy but not have an iPaq 4155, which is tiny, and has built in bluetooth and wifi. Yes it's less reliable than the palm and obviously has worse battery life. But the wireless options and screen quality sell it to me. Personally I couldn't give a monkey's what OS it runs provided I can sync to my desktop PC, and run my GPS nav software.

          Gawd, are Microsoft based PDA's still unreliable? Geesh, they've been losing money in that market/division for something like 8 years now. H

        • My question is this: Why should the consumer care what OS is on the device?
          I suppose you're right... I don't care what the OS is so much, as long as it has a term window and I can install Perl on it. Know of any non-Linux PDAs that fit that bill?
    • by JPriest (547211)
      This was a pure case of.
      1) Build a product
      2) Make it run Linux
      3) ??
      4) Profit!!

      I don't understand how it failed.

    • I am a linux nut and I see no need for a PDA that runs linux on it.
      That's because you're not a PDA nut...
    • by bwy (726112)
      I am a linux nut and I see no need for a PDA that runs linux on it.

      I am a Linux nut and see no reason to run a proprietary OS that requires large, expensive development cycles such as Palm OS/Win CE/etc. when a perectly good embedded Linux platform exists which can run thousands of apps already written with minimal or no changes.
    • One thing about the Sharp PDA that made me want it was the USB interface that could work as a host or peripheral. All of the other PDAs I've checked out had peripheral only USB interfaces, meaning I could not plug it into my cell phone for wireless data.

      Funds have kept me from getting the 6k, and now when I have the funds, it looks like I'll be unable to get one. We'll see.

      Anyone know of a decent, powerful PDA with USB host capability built in? Otherwise I'm left with something like an IPAQ with a USB hos
    • The point of using Linux was not to add features, but to lower the cost of the PDA: not only could Sharp avoid the Windows tax by using another OS, they could also (theoretically) reduce their specs from those required for a Windows-CE certified PDA.

      Unfortunately, where Sharp could have sold an iPaq-equivalent for hundreds less, they chose to use the money saved by using Linux to add extra hardware features to the device. Thus, rather than a $100-$200 device with functionality equivalent to an iPaq, they
  • Price (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fembots (753724) on Monday October 18, 2004 @05:38PM (#10560079) Homepage
    As stated, people don't seem to be willing to pay a premium for gadgets and alternative systems.

    Moving people from MS to Linux is difficult enough because of the technical differencesalone, and did I mention the OS is free?

    So why would people pay more money to try Linux?

    If a PDA costs $400 running Windows, people already have the perception that a Linux-based PDA should cost $200 less because the OS is free.
    • Maybe not 200$ less, but if they care, it should be less, should it not? If not, then don't complain about a "microsoft tax" that adds a whopping 5% to the cost of new laptops.
    • Re:Price (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DrXym (126579)
      Why should you pay a premium though? The Zaurus is neat to be sure, but what does it do that justifies it's high price?

      Running Linux is not a feature as far as most people are concerned. They want a PDA first and foremost - the PDA is no good if the handwriting recognition sucks, or the planner is junk, or the thing has crappy sync software, or it requires two taps when one would do, or if it crashes all the time, or if it is too big, or the battery life is measured in minutes. I'm not saying the Zaurus d

  • by datastalker (775227) on Monday October 18, 2004 @05:40PM (#10560086) Homepage
    The Zaurus line is a great one; I've had three models (5000D, 5500, 5600). However, my Treo does everything that the Zaurus can do, and comes with a phone! Since the Treo is a non-MS device, it also satisfies my desire not to support Microsoft. Of course, the Treo 650 [internetnews.com] will be even better. ;)

    • by Mr2cents (323101) on Monday October 18, 2004 @06:07PM (#10560291)
      PDA's are just another gadget that gets outdated after a year. Maybe I'm growing old/less competetive, but I don't want to buy these new thingies all the time.

      "How long will it last?" is the first question I ask myself, and the faster it will be outdated, the less money I'm willing to spend on it. My previous computer was a dual PII, it cost me a fortune but that money is gone. My last PC was a cheap AMD homemade, it works fine and with the money I saved I bought a telescope. I've always wanted one, and a telescope can last much longer than a PC that loses it's value instantly.
      • PDA's are just another gadget that gets outdated after a year.

        I quite don't agree - I've had my Palm V for 4 maybe 5 years now, and it works quite well. So far the only reason I have to replace it is that it is physically falling appart.

        I upgraded to 8MB, but other then that it's working great for 5 years now - I sometimes use it more then my PC. I store mostly databases (for example client billable hours), and PIM type things in it. Also lots of books (fiction, and reference).

    • The story at the Internet News link seems to be down... here's one [engadget.com] from EnGadget.
  • I still use mine (Score:2, Informative)

    Great mp3 player with a built-in calendar, addressbook, a console, and 802.11b! You mean for work? No, I don't use a PDA for work anymore.
  • SL-5x00 (Score:5, Informative)

    by chaffed (672859) on Monday October 18, 2004 @05:40PM (#10560093) Homepage
    I was up till recently a SL-5500 owner. It was a great PDA. However Sharp's software support was terrible. They had great hardware with great function but poor software support.

    The OSS community took-up the slack the best they could by releasing revised ROMs and even roms built from the ground up like Open Zaurus [openzaurus.org].

    Another issue I had was lake of sync support. The sync feature was flaky at best.

    So I really think it's a bad move on sharp's part to discontinue US sales. The zaurus is one of those devices that almost was and still can be the killer device.

    On a side note. The Zaurus is the best handheld I have ever used for WiFi site surveys!

    • The zaurus is one of those devices that almost was and still can be the killer device.

      Killer? You mean, widely adopted?

      For what?

      • Re:For what? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Trejkaz (615352)

        For use as a PDA, presumably. The device is pretty kickass, aside from the sync issues, it is the developer's dream. No dealing with shitty companies like Microsoft who lock you into their tools, or Palm who distribute half-baked Java implementations.

        I would be sorry to see it go, but Australia lost the Zaurus ages ago. :-(

    • by TheMCP (121589) on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:29PM (#10562101) Homepage
      As a senior software manager, I was responsible for selecting a PDA OS to standardize on at a small university in Boston last year. (I also had the option of deciding that none were good enough yet and examine the market again later.) I looked at the Palm devices and determined they were nice but didn't quite meet requirements. (And, their people didn't return my calls, which does not help form a business relationship.) I was given a WinCE pda/smartphone by the university (free, to keep), winced at how awful the software was, and gave it back. An article here on slashdot mentioned the zaurus, and I found one at a good price, decided that regardless of what would be best for the university, it was what I wanted for me. So, I bought one for me, and used myself as a guinea-pig.

      I loved it. It was GREAT! In addition to being plenty fun for me to toy with, it was everything I wanted our students to have, and then some. I figured I'd toy with it a while longer before putting in the order for thousands of units... and then it broke.

      Okay, these things happen. It was just a hardware button not working. That's repairable, right? So I sent it in for warranty service. I figured, this is just an opportunity to see how fast their repair service is before placing the order. I guessed the contacts were probably just corroded from the humid salt air of Boston, and this would be a good simple test of their repair department.

      They sent it back to me un-fixed. Oh, and they'd wiped my data. (Fortunately nothing important was on it, I was more toying with it than anything.) So, I phoned to complain. They basically told me, in very polite language, that nothing was wrong with it and I'm an idiot who doesn't know how to use a button. But, there it was, in my hand, and the button still didn't work.

      Sharp lost an immediate sale of 3500 to 4000 units, plus ongoing sales for incoming students, faculty, and staff, plus an ongoing repair contract with the university.

      I took a jeweler's screwdriver and disassembled the relevant parts of the unit. The problem turned out to be corrosion on the contacts for the button. 20 seconds with a pencil eraser and it was fixed. Yet, Sharp repair apparently couldn't find that problem. Oh well, their loss.

      And the university? Well, since I'd decided that no PDAs were yet acceptable, they bought some faculty and some staff Windows XP tablet computers... which I didn't like, but which did meet the requirements.

      Sharp has some great tech. I'd LOVE to have one of their 3D displays, and a newer model Zaurus... but this is not the first time I've had a nasty run-in with their repair department, so I'm not going to be buying anything from Sharp any time soon. I can't say if I'm a representative customer or not, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if lack of repeat business is a substantial part of why Sharp isn't doing so well in the US computer market.
  • I'd buy a palm IF (Score:2, Insightful)

    by slashdot_punk (813387)
    ...it had the features of the $300 model and cost $75.

    I just don't feel like buying an old model or paying $300.

    I'd rather buy a remanufactured laptop for $300.
  • Too bad... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Colonel Panic (15235) on Monday October 18, 2004 @05:42PM (#10560107)
    The Zaurus (I've got a 5500) is a cool little device. Stick a CF wifi card in it and you can check your email and surf the web when you're out on the road. It's a lot easier to pack a Zaurus than it is to pack a laptop. Most of the time the Zaurus is just fine for this purpose.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 18, 2004 @05:42PM (#10560111)

    why bother with a big clunky PDA when i can now get the same functionality in my cellphone [sonyericsson.com] ?

    the PDA has now been surpassed,the clever manufacturers discovered that there is no real need for it anymore, need something bigger than a cellphone, then a tablet PC should fit the bill

    iam sorry to see PDA's go but thats progress for you

    • I'm glad someone else mentioned it.

      I thought my Palm was the greatest thing ever when I first got it. It was more convenient than a laptop, and my cell phone was bulky and lacked any features.

      Now, I have a 12-inch iBook that can come with me almost everywhere I go; my $50 (with 1 year of T-mobile) cell phone, the tiny Sony Ericsson T610, has all of my contacts, my calendar, games, e-mail, stickies, and email, and can synchronize all of these with my laptop using Bluetooth.

      The phone does the most importa
    • iam sorry to see PDA's go but thats progress for you

      If the PDA market is finally dying...maybe Apple will bring back the Newton...after all, they did take it off the market just as the market was becoming ready for the PDA.

      Sigh...I wish Apple would release the newton in the form factor of a palm...I'd buy it no matter what the cost.

    • why bother with a big clunky PDA when i can now get the same functionality in my cellphone ?

      My reason: my Palm Zire syncs flawlessly with my Mac, while my phone does not. Sure, I can get a USB cable for my phone, but it will cost around $50, and there's no Mac support for it.

      Oh yeah, I can also surf the web on my Palm and read ebooks without going blind reading 2 lines of text at a time, and without worrying about killing my battery for making and receiving calls.

      And oh yeah, I can use my Palm on an a

  • Trend (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FiReaNGeL (312636) <fireang3l AT hotmail DOT com> on Monday October 18, 2004 @05:43PM (#10560123) Homepage
    It seem to be a trend... Japan get all the cool toys while US (and Canada) markets show 'not enough demand'.... don't we like cool toys? Seen it happen with PDAs, Minidisc players (only some models are sold here, the coolest ones are Japan only), Cellphones...
    • Re:Trend (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ScrewMaster (602015)
      No, it's just that America has no middle class anymore. The poor can't afford this stuff and there aren't enough rich.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        No, it's just that America has no middle class anymore. The poor can't afford this stuff and there aren't enough rich.


        Which is of course, why SUV sales are at an all time high, and people are moving into $300,000 homes in suburbia in high quantities.

    • This isn't a new trend. It's been going on for years. Japan is way ahead of the US in terms of the latest gadgets. However, if you want one, some companies will sell it to you [dynamism.com].
    • Re:Trend (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rho (6063) on Monday October 18, 2004 @06:20PM (#10560360) Homepage Journal

      Eh? Cool toys?

      Japan has "cool toys" because real estate is prohibitively expensive in Japan. Nobody ever saves for a $250,000 McMansion in Japan because there's no place to build it. So they live in 600 feet square apartments and have lots of "cool toys". Our toys are a new Rototiller and a John Deere lawn mower. I have no idea which is "cooler".

      As for me--this is just me, of course--I'd rather own my house than have a Sharp PDA for no other compelling reason other than it runs Linux. Go Japan! That's how you become a world power!

    • Re:Trend (Score:3, Interesting)

      by angel'o'sphere (80593)
      Japan get all the cool toys while US (and Canada) markets show 'not enough demand'

      Hm, well when I tell you the truth I get modded down as Troll or Flamebait again (See my recent moderations).

      USA is on the decline. You have what, 290 million inhabitants? Japan has 120 million. The "avaraqge" american is poor. The avarage Japaneese is rich, even richer than an avarage european.

      Most /. ers do not buy cool stuff. How often do I see posts like: Macs are overpriced, and can get the parts and build my own PC f
  • by happyemoticon (543015) on Monday October 18, 2004 @05:44PM (#10560132) Homepage
    To date, I only have known two people who own PDAs - my boss and one of my friends. I don't even see many people at my unversity who own them - but I know a bundle who are married to their laptops. If they can't sell a gadget to college students, good luck selling it to anyone at all. My money is on pda/cellphone combos and blackberries.
  • phone integration (Score:3, Interesting)

    by asv108 (141455) <<gro.oiduatahp> <ta> <xela>> on Monday October 18, 2004 @05:45PM (#10560134) Homepage Journal
    Any more, most of the PDA's I see people carrying are also cell phones. I see a lot of people carrying Blackberries, Treos, and PocketPCs with phone capability. What is the advantage of carrying two different devices? From what I can tell the sharp line offered no phone capabilities and the wifi option drained way too much power to make it practical.
    • that the pda does the pda functionality better.

      no other reason really... i know a guy who uses a bluetooth phone and a zaurus with bluetooth sd-card. nice for web on the go, does it much better than the series60 phone he has.

      I'm still just using my phone for the on-the-go stuff(I got a tungsten t here now that i could use but haven't bothered yet to configure it properly enough to make sense to carry around).

  • by Jacer (574383)
    I was really looking forward to purchasing the new model with embedded hard drive! Does anyone know if an import is possible, and if it is, will there be an OpenZaurus build that fully supports it?
  • ...works better.

    No batteries. Inexpensive. High resolution. Withstands 6 foot drops and coffee spills. Easy to see. Integrated stylus drawing surface. No messing around with handwriting recognition that only works 90% of the time. No pokey built in keyboard. No need for an external keyboard. Tabable pages. Can use any stylus: ball point, gel, or graphite.

    Paper pad cost: 75 cents
    PDA cost: $50 to $400 plus $2.25 for batteries.
    • Shhh! If this gets out it will ruin the market!
    • by bluGill (862) on Monday October 18, 2004 @06:10PM (#10560302)

      For you maybe. I cannot read my own handwriting 80% of the time. If electronics could get close that would help. And since I can see instantly that it gets it wrong I could correct the mistake then when I still knew what I meant to write. Course I don't trust hand writing recognition to understand my scratching.

      I tried a paper organizer once, ended up knowing that something once started between 9:00 and 10:30. Maybe, unless I crossed it out, hard to tell. I wasn't even sure where, 1.5 hours is a long time to spend wondering the halls, examining each conference room to see if someone realized I was wondering if this was the right one, knew I should be there, and told me to join.

      Eventually my school tested me. They found that at best I can write like a second grader. That is at best. Don't tell me to practice, that is about as useful as telling someone in a wheelchair to walk. I physically cannot do better.

      • My handwriting is probably as bad as yours. I suppose the only difference is that I can read my handwriting later....that doesn't help much as I'm the only one that can do it. I primarily exist as a keyboardist as well. My "PDA" is what I call the Paper Pilot. It's a folded up sheet of paper with certain bits of frequently used info printed on it and I scrawl anything new that has to be added. Every once in a while, it develops excessive sector errors (creases). So I shred the old one and sync a new P
    • The best part is people don't bother to steal it and you don't worry about babysitting it. One less thing to stress over.
    • With my handwriting, I'm lucky to get 80 per cent recognition from paper a month later :)

      (I also have a good, legible handwriting, but I tend to use that more when I'm writing because I want to, rather than to get a message across. It's a bit excentric. Because it's fun.)
    • Ah yes, but can a piece of paper:
      * Beep at you to remind you of an appointment?
      * Keep the same contact list as your desktop email/organiser without you having to copy out the details manually?
      * Allow you to play games and access the net away from your PC if you need/want to?

      Sure, paper might be OK for some people. But I find a PDA much more versatile, despite the downsides you highlight.
    • ....and the only games available for it are Tic-Tac-Toe and Hangman.

      You can play football if you fold up a page, but you permanently destroy some of it's available storage doing so.

  • by I_am_Rambi (536614) on Monday October 18, 2004 @05:50PM (#10560172) Homepage
    I heard a few weeks ago that this was going to happen, just could find any information about the discontinuation of the line. From my sources, I have been told that there is another linux pda from another company on the way. I do not remember what the company is off hand, but another is coming.

    Persoanl rant

    I wish sharp would do this, but o well. I love my zaurus, Just wish there was some linux software for syncing....
  • by Dwedit (232252) on Monday October 18, 2004 @05:51PM (#10560185) Homepage
    The Zaurus is a really really bad pda. Especially if you want to develop for it and you don't run linux on your desktop computer, I would think at least someone would have built some .exe file you can get for free and start cranking out software, but nobody has even bothered with that! Even the TI-83 calculator has development tools available for windows.

    It has extremely crappy arrow keys, totally unsuited for any type of games, as well as a cramped keyboard that likes to press neighboring keys. The battery life is terrible, and the battery dies completely if the unit is suspended and kept away from a power source for an extended amount of time.

    It has a tiny amount of software available for it. Half of the programs for it either fail if you don't use openzaurus, the other half fail if you do.

    It's only useful for playing Day of the Tentacle. That's it.
    • by Noksagt (69097) on Monday October 18, 2004 @06:01PM (#10560260) Homepage
      Developing under cygwin for the zaurus is doable. On-device development is definitely better than ANY other handheld. More importantly, good programs have already been ported from the desktop & it is somewhat easy to do this.

      It is the best handheld-computer out there.

      I agree that it is a bad PDA. Not really really bad (there are great apps & the keyboard is a huge plus for data entry). The mark of a good PDA is excellent PIM software that syncs (Palm wins, but you can install good PIM software on the Zaurus & sync is great...under linux & passable under other OSs). Outstanding battery-life is a HUGE plus. To be short: if you want a PDA, get a grey-scale Palm. If you want a good toy to hack with, get a Zaurus.
      • On-device development is definitely better than ANY other handheld... It is the best handheld-computer out there.

        Would it be presumptuous of me to suggest that maybe you've never seen a Psion 5mx?

        Yes, it's a few years old now, but it's still an extremely powerful, extremely well-supported, and extremely usable machine. And it's not bad for development, either. It has its own built-in language (OPL) which though not cutting-edge is pretty neat (roll-your-own dialog boxes in 2-10 lines of code, for ex

  • by vluther (5638) <vidNO@SPAMlinuxpowered.com> on Monday October 18, 2004 @05:52PM (#10560191) Homepage Journal
    Whats the advantage of the SL 5 series over an ipaq ?

    I used to have the SL5000D, it was a cool gadget, but even syncing with Linux/Evolution was a chore/pain.. and was actually done by someone else, there was no support from Sharp directly.

    Secondly, the cost/market for a PDA that costs $500 is very little. How many top of the line ipaqs etc are bought ? I've seen a steady decline of models even from Compaq/HP along with Toshiba/Samsung.. maybe the smartphone market is to blame as well ?

    I have an AT&T MpX200 this is an awesome phone, which syncs with an exchange server.. period. No tweaking, nothing. MS Smartphone 2003 (I upgraded, I know the default is 2002), is a great OS for a phone.

    MS PocketPC Phone Edition on the other hand, sucks. I tested the HP iPAQ 6315 when it was pre-released to T-Mobile customers, for $499 the phone wouldn't even turn off when I pressed the off button. And, I had to do a hard reset on the phone 3 times in 2 days.. Needless to say, the phone was returned immediately.

    The operating system alone is not a driving factor for a device to sell, QA and easy to use features are. The Zaurus 5000 was cool, but it was hard to sync, the iPAQ Phone sucks, but has really cool features.. too bad they don't work.

    I'm waiting on the Motorola Linux Phones to be released in the US so I can compare them.

    But, an OS alone does not sell a device.. most users do not, and should not care what OS the device is, and should not be used to advertise in marketing a brand new device. Wether the OS is free or not should also never be a factor in pricing the product.

    just my HO.

    • Case Engineering aside it's really silly for a PDA to cost more than a PC.

      Software developed for a single standard same with hardware. The damn things are Gameboys!

      And yes there should be a market for sub $200 wifi enabled handhelds they just haven't made them yet.

  • ...and primarily in the corporate market customers prefer to buy from the same suppliers as for their corporate hardware."

    That would explain why I see so many IBM PDAs in the corporate world.

    Not.

  • by wobedraggled (549225) on Monday October 18, 2004 @05:56PM (#10560220) Homepage
    I had a Zaurus when they first came out over here (5000d) and it was a great little gadget with great potential, but Sharp hardly pushed it over here at all, and never brought over the much nicer and sleeker Clamshell design. You get what you pay for, and you sell what you push. Bye bye Sharp at least one us will miss you.
  • US 1, Japan 0? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday October 18, 2004 @05:57PM (#10560225) Homepage Journal
    Does this mean that (American) Dell and HP have beaten Sharp, Sony, and Toshiba (Japanese) in selling tiny consumer electronics devices in the US? That market 0wn3rship is being fought out by viciously innovating American competitors? Where are the "American Engineering Extinction" pundits while the new paradigm firmly assumes an American twang?
    • Re:US 1, Japan 0? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ScrewMaster (602015) on Monday October 18, 2004 @05:59PM (#10560242)
      No, it means that we're just getting really good at importing electronics from China and marketing them. More to the point, China is getting pretty good at making them.
      • Re:US 1, Japan 0? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Doc Ruby (173196)
        So is this a replay of the 1970s, where American TV makers outsourced their inventing and manufacturing to rebranded Japanese companies, which then cut out the expense-adding American corporate layer and 0wn3ed the market, through today? Beating away the German (and British, French, etc) competitors? Like cameras before them, and cars after that.
        • Umm ... yes. Only it isn't the Japanese time. Oh sure, for the time being a good percentage of Chinese-made electronics still make Japan a lot of money, thanks to Japanese investment in certain key technologies (blue LEDs, for example.) But that won't last. China is out for blood and there isn't going to be much that will stand in their way: certainly not a software-patent and DMCA hobbled United States.
          • The US survived the Japanese takeover of its industries, though not without pain. And Japan's economy has been in relatively sad shape since it struggled to swallow the American market. Is that American market somehow a poison pill that we can use to compete as effectively with China as we have with Japan? If so, will we recover in time to compete with a later-rising India, and another state behind them? Or do we lose so much advantage that we're in a downward spiral: surrounded by the broken dreams of fore
  • PDA Needs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 18, 2004 @05:57PM (#10560228)
    I saw the zaurus and I must admit that I was impressed. Unfortunately the price tag wasn't something I could afford. Anyone know a decent low-cost PDA with built-in keyboard, adequate speed/memory/storage, runs linux and can go wireless? Preferrably something that would sync up with kmail or evolution or something like that, too.

    I'm in the demographic that can't quite justify an expensive PDA but if there's a relatively cheap one that has all the "geeky" linux capabilities, I'd probably get one.
    • *Anyone know a decent low-cost PDA with built-in keyboard, adequate speed/memory/storage, runs linux and can go wireless? Preferrably something that would sync up with kmail or evolution or something like that, too.*

      used zaurus(can go wireless, built in keyboard..).. there isn't that much choice with those requirements.

    • Anyone know a decent low-cost PDA with built-in keyboard, adequate speed/memory/storage, runs linux and can go wireless? Preferrably something that would sync up with kmail or evolution or something like that, too.


      I was looking for that too, after having used a Psion series 5x for a long time. The Psion did all I needed, but no wifi, no bluetooth and no usb. So I looked....

      Sony went ahead and released the Clie UX50, which had the gadget-factor, features and size -- but what I thought was a horrible key
    • Earlier today you could have got the 6000L from Amazon.com for $399.99, now the price went up to $449.99.. you had your chance...
  • People don't seem to be willing to pay a premium for gadgets and alternative systems, and primarily in the corporate market customers prefer to buy from the same suppliers as for their corporate hardware.

    How is this news? Consumers always choose the path of least resistance. It's basic economics.

  • I've been dying to get one of these ever since my Ipaq was stolen. Keeping track of meetings and tasks on Post-Its is no way to go through life. I've been hitting eBay regularly but just can't get an auction to close at the right price. Maybe people will be less likely to bid now that Sharp is pulling out. BTW, if you're selling, I'm buying (maybe).

    Matthew
  • People don't seem to be willing to pay a premium for gadgets and alternative systems

    Yea, how strange it is that people don't want to pay a premium for a device built with an OS the manufacturer got for free, rather than paying a licensing fee for each unit to Palm or Microsoft. Maybe some of the Linux developers that freely contributed their own work are willing to pay a premium for a device that profits from it, but many consumers seem to figure thay shouldn't be paying a premium for a device that alre

  • warstrolling (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tim Fraser (16824) on Monday October 18, 2004 @07:03PM (#10560631) Homepage
    It was my old Zaurus SL-5000D that taught me one novel way to combine quality time with the family and geekery. I'd run kismet on the Z and put it in my pocket while pushing my 3-year-old daughter around my suburban neighborhood in her stroller. Whenever we'd pass a neighbor proudly polishing his car in his driveway, I'd give a cheerful "Hello!" and my Z would give an equally-cheerful "I found an open AP" bleep.

    Hopefully my new SL-6000L will last me a long time...

    Tim Fraser
  • People don't seem to be willing to pay a premium for gadgets and alternative systems

    Sounds like the same reasons that Apple always provides for why they don't want to get back into the PDA game (much to the chagrin of the Newton crowd [oldschool.net], I might add)
  • Let me rephrase this: "Sharp announced today that they are pulling their PDA's from the U.S. market. Citing that something is obviously wrong with U.S. consumers not preferring the more expensive yet cheaply made Zaurus to the plethora of PocketPC-based PDA's for considerably less money!"
    See, oddly enough if you hype up the technology arena about how much money Linux saves you then release a Linux PDA that's $100 on average more than an iPAQ, well people just start scratching their heads.
    Now Sony I don't
  • by Trogre (513942)
    My little SL-5600 (which pretty much fixes everything that was wrong with the 5500) is the best PDA I've ever come across. The thumb keyboard is excellent if you don't have fat thumbs, and of course it makes a great portable ogg player.

    After adding mplayer, cron and a plucker reader it's tough to beat.

  • WHAT! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by IceFox (18179) on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:18PM (#10561006) Homepage
    They say they are pulling it now? I call WTF on them. Everyone on the team but the *manager* was let go one and half years ago! I should know, I was there.

  • by perlow (451482) on Monday October 18, 2004 @10:54PM (#10561926) Homepage
    I was the Developer Liasion at Sharp during 2002-2003 and I wrote a peice in Linux Magazine in May of 2004 about why the Zaurus failed. The short of it? Sharp had no clue about dealing with the Open Source community.

    http://www.linux-mag.com/2004-05/hard_01.html

    As another person mentioned upthread, there are -other- Linux handhelds in the works, some coming out by major companies. Lets just hope they aren't doomed to repeat the same mistakes.
    • by Ilan Volow (539597) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @12:10AM (#10562349) Homepage
      Here's a letter to Linux magazine I wrote in response to the above linked article, which was printed in the Augest edition of Linux magazine. As Linux magazine doesn't publish letters in the archive, I'll have to republish my letter in the post.


      Our Way Is The Hard Way

      The analysis of the Sharp Zaurus' failure in May's "The Hard Way" column is a textbook example of how we in the Open Source community blow it big time on usability issues and then blame the lack of mass adoption on "evil" proprietary companies like Sharp.

      A successful PDA for the masses should minimize the number of taps required to perform a task. However, for every tap on my Palm, I had to do 2-3 more taps in the Qtopia applications on my Zaurus. Qtopia buttons and menus also took up needless screen real estate--real estate the designer of the Palm user interface was smart enough to conserve.

      A successful PDA for the masses has a developer community that understands how to minimize taps and screen real-estate use. Palm developers get it. Zaurus developers, on the other hand, would constantly tell me "It's not a 'usability problem', you're just familiar with the Palm UI."

      A successful PDA for the masses has a user community that rants and raves about how they can organize stuff and plan out their day with a few taps of their styli. The Palm had this. The Zaurus had a user community that ranted and raved about how they could run a terminal on their PDA to ssh into servers.

      We in Open Source often hurt mainstream adoption more than any proprietary company ever could. It's time we realize this and stop blaming others for the problems of our own making.


      While the Open Source community did significantly hurt the user experience of the Zaurus, in all fairness some of that blame also belongs to Sharp. For example, they left the power button exposed and uncovered by the flip-down visor, which often results in the Zaurus getting turned on while it's still in your pocket and the battery being kaput the second you whip it out.

      I think that whether future handhelds will be successful depends on whether they are "Linux Handhelds" guided primarily by Unix design values or "Handhelds That Just Happen To Run Linux" that are guided primary by PDA/Ergonomic values.
  • by kcurrie (4116) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @02:44AM (#10562868)

    [ tons of tips and ideas what's possible with a Z follow ]

    The 5500 and others are more like little Linux laptops then PDAs. While I am far from a typical PDA user, the absolutely INCREDIBLE stuff I can do with just a 5500 and a wireless card continues to astound me today. To be fair, I never bought a Zaurus with the intention of ever doing typical PDA like stuff, but just wanted an easy familiar environment to hack in.

    Years ago I had a USR P1000 (The Palm 1000, before Palm bought it from US Robotics), and while it was a great PDA (for the day), it was underpowered for what I wanted and most importantly LACKED A KEYBOARD, which makes all the difference in the world. One day I worked an ENTIRE day with only my P1000, a ssh client and a (9600 baud) serial link to my cell phone to see just how doable it was. As a unix admin doing security work the P1000 did have SOME uses (serial console to Sun boxes, ssh client for accessing mail via Mutt, etc) but the end result was a less than productive day overall. Trying to edit files on unix boxes with vi using Graffiti was quite painful and I vowed I'd never buy another PDA until it had at least a minimal keyboard to work with.

    Fast forward to my (now several years old) 5500. Shortly after getting it I wiped the original Sharp rom and replace it with the actively developed OpenZaurus [openzaurus.org] distribution, and was very happy with the results.

    I have a very portable linux box with wireless, nearly all the software I was using on Solaris and Linux, as well as the pretty Qtopia apps and a half-way decent environment. I've been able to get nice tools like nmap [insecure.org], p0f (Passive OS Fingerprinter) [coredump.cx], Kismet [kismetwireless.net], and other excellent unix based tools working with minimal effort on the Z under OpenZaurus (and the a lesser extent the Sharp ROM). Under OZ I can compile and run MANY common exploit tools like the awesome Metasploit framework [metasploit.com], which require perl, and to a less extent Python. Both are no big deal to get going on the Z, especially since the Z is binary compatible with the IPAQ based Familiar distribution [handhelds.org], and usually just needs the odd library to get an app working. That's all fine for text based apps, but since OZ (using Opie [handhelds.org], at least) is QT and not X based, a variety of GUI based apps don't easily run. There ARE solutions to getting X based apps to run with minimal fuss, including the original x11zaurus [killefiz.de] package, and more recently the excellent X/QT [sourceforge.jp] package, as well as simply running one of the versions of the vncserver for Zaurus [sdgsystems.com] which of course allows you to display X not only on your Z, but also on any other VNC compatible device (such such as you cell phone, Linux, Windows, etc).

    More recently the GPE environment and projects [handhelds.org] has become available, and is offers an attractive alternative to Opie, but with X11 compatibility built in.

    For me, I joined the Debian religion ~5-6 years ago after experimenting to see what all the fuss on /. was all about. It didn't take long before I was the typical Debian crack addict apt-getting any application I wanted to check out on a whim. After living in Ottawa for years I was very well aware of the Corel [corel.com](and later Rebel.com (who themselves were called Hardware Canada previously, and were a unix reseller) Netwinder [linuxjournal.com] , which was a cool little ARM based PC, which unfortunately suffered under the idiocy of Corel's managem

Did you know that for the price of a 280-Z you can buy two Z-80's? -- P.J. Plauger

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