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Sharp To Quit Making Personal Computers 93

Posted by timothy
from the used-to-have-the-coolest-laptops dept.
cylonlover writes "Sharp has reportedly decided to pull the plug on their PC operations — not entirely shocking given that the company has not released any PCs at all in the past year. The company will apparently 'focus on marketing its Galapagos tablet devices coming out in December, along with providing content such as e-books, music and video for these products.'"
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Sharp To Quit Making Personal Computers

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  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2010 @11:15PM (#34008478)

    Sharp made PCs?

    • Microsoft to stop making automobiles.
      • Microsoft to stop making personal music players...
      • They're choosing to focus on their more popular products.

        They must be swamped with pre-orders for their Galapagos. I'll be getting in line at the Sharp Concept Store tomorrow to get mine.

        • So Sharp is making an iPad now?

          That's cute, but I had a Zaurus like years and years ago. The problem is that after the initial release, it was basically unsupported. I would not buy another Sharp Linux product.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Microsoft to stop making automobiles.

        The Vista Hybrid was a bad move though. It was one thing to get the "allow" or "deny" prompt when you started one but getting the prompt when you hit the brakes was a little unsettling.

        • by Dogtanian (588974)

          Microsoft to stop making automobiles.

          The Vista Hybrid was a bad move though. It was one thing to get the "allow" or "deny" prompt when you started one but getting the prompt when you hit the brakes was a little unsettling.

          A more serious problem was that this was often followed by the system crashing.

      • by sempir (1916194)
        Firefox asked to stop making Swiss Cheese.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by antifoidulus (807088) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @11:30PM (#34008538) Homepage Journal
      Actually a lot of different Japanese companies make computers that are for the most part only released in Japan. Which is actually a far cry from the situation 20 years ago where lots of different Japanese PC manufacturers exported their stuff overseas.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by oldhack (1037484)
        20 years ago (actually, bit older), NEC was the king of PC in Japan. They got out of the business entirely for some time now.
        • There are still NEC branded PCs being sold in Japan. I don't know how much NEC actually has to do with the design/production, they could just be sticking their name on it, but they are still out there.
          • by oldhack (1037484)
            Didn't know that. Do they still sell desktop boxes (anything other than laptop sort)?
            • Yeah, their specialty seems to be essentially the PC version of the iMac(ie the all in one design that is much more popular in Japan than it is in the US or Europe)
              • by wvmarle (1070040)

                Japan has problems with space; and those all-in-ones tend to take less desk space than traditional desktops so it makes sense.

                OTOH I'm surprised those all-in-ones are not more popular elsewhere, especially outside the Apple market. They indeed have limited upgrade possibilities but then nowadays that's not much done in the first place. Laptops have the same "problem" and it doesn't seem to stop people from buying those as desktop replacement. And personally I would prefer the all-in-one over a laptop that

                • Most people who are ok with the limits of an all-in-one, in that they cost more and aren't so upgradable, just get a laptop. They work well, and you can pick them up and take them with you. They can also easily have an external keyboard, mouse and monitor hooked to them when placed on a desktop.

                  That's the real issue is that all-in-ones are a very small market because something already pretty much offers what they do and more. Laptops are great if size is the concern, desktops are great for systems that stay

                • by cgenman (325138)

                  All-In-One's here tend to be really expensive. I've known a lot of businesses that were on a desktop standard, and a big part of that reason was cost. They'd get parts of setups second hand from other businesses that upgraded... a monitor here, a wireless card there. New towers would come in, costing them $100 or less. Any sort of all-in-one would lock them to a single standard.

                  Laptops appeal to people's fantasies about portability and travel. "I might take that and use my laptop at a coffee shop!" Mo

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, they had a slim notebook (Mebius) line for ages. I had one in 2005 or 2006, it was almost as thin then as the super-advertised thinnest macbook is now.

      I even had the docking station.

    • by magarity (164372)

      Sharp made PCs?

      Heck yeah, Sharp made all kinds of cool computers back in the day. A friend of mine in high school had portable one with a little LCD screen built in. They were completely proprietary, of course. Eventually, they build standard PC clones and that's what they're getting out of. By making a tablet they're actually moving back to their old ways.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by arth1 (260657)

        I remember with fondness my Sharp MZ-731 home computer, with its built-in 4-colour plotter.

        Yes, Sharp made some excellent products back when. But in a market where similarity now is what's desired, and consumers look at price before quality knowing that they'll replace their purchase in a couple of years anyhow, being innovative doesn't help. Do what the others do, just slightly better and slightly cheaper, and you'll sell a LOT more than if you come out with a groundbreaking product.
        So I'm not surprised

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cgenman (325138)

          In defense of consumers: there is no real way of judging build quality in modern computers. "Brand name" strength is a terrible indicator, as brands like HP and Sony have some of the most miserable long-term reliability numbers. Industry numbers like Mean Time Between Failures bears little or no resemblance to reality.

          Also, computer innovation generally means adding crap that isn't supported properly in the OS anyway, and will go away the moment you need to reinstall. The Lenovo I'm typing this on has a

      • . . .they're actually moving back to their old ways.

        Maybe this way [wikipedia.org] you speak of isn't so old. The Zaurus line was more popular in Japan than here (in the US). I was using my Zaurus sl-5500 until I bought a Nokia N810.

        • The Zaurus line was more popular in Japan than here (in the US). I was using my Zaurus sl-5500 until I bought a Nokia N810.

          Still use my Zaurus SL-C3000 [on.net] as my mobile writing platform. Clamshell form factor, bigger than a cellphone so typing is easier, smaller than a netbook so it fits in your pocket -- wish somebody made something similar today.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Haxamanish (1564673)
      My first computer was a Sharp MZ-80K [wikipedia.org] in 1979 - it had the words "Personal Computer" on it, two years before the "IBM PC". Z80 CPU, 48Kb RAM, 4Kb ROM. I also have a Sharp Zaurus.

      Both machines were highly innovative. This is a sad day.
    • by worx101 (1799560)
      Was about to ask the same thing myself, cannot remember ever seeing one...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hairyfeet (841228)

      Yes, back in the day, just like their PDAs up until the end they were as proprietary as hell. Now I just wish we could lose the proprietary as hell portables like laptops and now the "i" devices like iPad. Most who have read my past comments know I have NO problem with proprietary OSes, but that is because one has plenty of choice. Don't like Windows? There is a bazillion Linux OSes, BSD, Haiku, OSX, etc. It is trivial to replace and therefor one isn't locked into anyone else's upgrade cycle.

      Running a littl

      • by identity0 (77976)

        Wow, so many /.ers going off on something they have no experience with...

        Sharp sells their computers in Japan, so most of you might not know this, but they sold(and maybe still sell until stocks run out) an Ubuntu-based ultraportable called the Netwalker. One has a touchscreen, the other has an optical trackpad-type thing and keyboard.

        As far as I could tell when I saw it, it was a stock Ubuntu Japanese install, with no proprietary crap saddled on top of it. They even kept the Ubuntu logo instead of slappin

        • by ChoGGi (522069)

          you may wish to re-read his post, it's the hardware that'll be filling the land

    • Now what are all five of their customers going to do for support?
    • Lots of them actually:
      http://www.old-computers.com/museum/company.asp?st=1&m=117
  • by fredrickleo (711335) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @11:41PM (#34008586) Homepage

    Apparently they're going to focus on a new line of tablet PCs.

    I'm still very unhappy with the amount of software support and updates we got for the Zaurus SL-6000 (zero support and updates) which was a very expensive piece of kit.

    Because of my experience with the Zaurus I no longer take chances with hardware and would rather go with the established leaders even if it's technically inferior.

    • It probably would have been fine if they hadn't chosen to use proprietary parts for most of it. USB, etc. That said, it's still a pretty good device, and superior to almost all but the very latest phones. (Excluding size of course)

      • Most definitely. The main problem is that the sharp kernel is a 2.4 kernel and community efforts to create a good 2.6 kernel have failed because of the proprietary hardware and drivers. Especially in the area of power management and graphics acceleration.

        Unfortunately, while the hardware is still pretty good by today's standards it's almost impossible to run any useful software (i.e. current web browser and mail client) without a massive porting effort, all of which have failed so far.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Same thing with the Sharp Netwalker, which is the next-gen Zaurus. They released it in 2009 with Ubuntu 9.0.4 and haven't bothered to announce any upgrade, despite that 9.0.4 EoL-ed this month.

      Too bad, because the hardware is otherwise pretty cool.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by fredrickleo (711335)

        Too bad indeed, I'd ebay it quick while it still has some value.

        The last time I saw a SL-6000 on ebay it was going for like $50 or something which is pretty disappointing considering they cost $699 when they came out.

      • Netwalker? The name alone tells me that Sharp lacks a good marketing department. Search engines crawl. People browse. Who'd want to walk the web, Spiderman?
  • Obligatory... (Score:1, Offtopic)

    In other news, Sharp was selling PCs.

    Had no idea Sharp was even in the PC game.
    • Sharp apparently has a hand in a relatively broad range of products, from computers to microwaves to their 'Sharp Solar' division (according to Wikipedia). It seems to be almost a given for large companies/conglomerates in Japan (and several other east Asian countries, e.g. LG in South Korea). My example isn't entirely accurate in that Sharp isn't actually a conglomerate, to my knowledge.
      • by Phroggy (441)

        Yamaha makes everything from motorcycles to violins, and is generally known for consistently decent (though not spectacular) quality on pretty much all of it. I've always found that fascinating.

        • by HuguesT (84078)

          They actually completely own the beginner's instrument market from Pianos to Flutes via Saxophones and Violins, they actually make pretty good instruments, and like you said very consistent quality.

        • Yamaha makes everything from motorcycles to violins

          Instead of ACME, we have JCME.

  • Anybody remembers their amazing calculators like the PC-1211 [vintagecalculators.com] ? aka the Tandy TRS80-PC1. This calculator was programmable in BASIC, in the very early 1980s they were the way to get a hand on a programmable computer if you were a destitute high-school student. I never got one but I got its competitor the Casio FX702P [wikipedia.org] in 1982 when I was in year 11 I think. Very capable beasts with K7 backup and printers...

  • Way back when, I was considering buying my first computer (an Amstrad), for word-processing, I came across the Sharp 1410 'dedicated word processor'. I can't find a picture online, but it was an electric typewriter, with a 10(?) line LED screen, and some embedded software applications; a word processor, spreadsheet. You could save to 3.5" floppies. Thinking back, I still think that was a good choice for a student. Brother [brother.co.uk] seems to be the only firm making typewriters now, and the dedicated word processor app

    • by jgtg32a (1173373)
      hmm, embedded Linux running open office, a 10x4 LCD screen with an integrated printer and keyboard. That would be an interesting device
    • by osssmkatz (734824)
      www.alphasmart.com makes both Neos and Danas, which are both word processors of sorts. --Sam
      • Thanks for that. They look like much the same thing.

        The key difference to the Sharp, was it also had a built in printer, being essentially an electric typewriter with a memory.

  • Sharp X68000 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 25, 2010 @04:33AM (#34009714)

    Before they got into making x86 PC "clones" like everyone else, they had an 8-bit computer line as well as the X68000 which was basically the high end gaming PC of the late 80s. It shipped with Human68K which was on the surface similar to MS-DOS except that it used a 768x512 text display with kanji. The interesting part was the hardware. It had dual 1.2MB 5.25" floppy drives, a YM2151 (4 op, 8 channel stereo FM synthesizer like the one used in Capcom CPS1 arcade machines and many others) and ADPCM chip for sound, and a 10MHz 68K. Then for video it had 512KB of memory for "text" arranged as 4 bitplanes (like the Atari ST or Amiga), another 512KB for bitmapped graphics which could hit 512x512 with 64K colors, and 32KB of SRAM for 4bpp character based graphics (2 independantly scrolling background layers and 128 16x16 sprites). In other words, it rocked, and it cost 400,000 yen.

  • Sharp had a cutting edge 'personal mobile tool' in the Zaurus, they just didn't seem to know what they had, or how to support it. The PC tablet is a dreadful road to go down - I've tried those too, but unlike the Zaurus, there is nothing to recommend them...

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." -- Bernard Berenson

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