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Sharp updates Zaurus to take on Palm

Multimedia PDA to ship in the US next year

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Sharp has launched the latest version of its Zaurus PDA in Japan, in an attempt to take the fight for marketshare to Palm.

Sharp's Zaurus has actually been around for some time, in one form or another, bridging the gap between the company's more basic electronic organisers and palmtop computers.

Over time, successive Zaurus models have incorporated more PDA functionality. The latest incarnation will feature Internet access and video playback on its colour screen. That will put the machine head-to-head with Sony's PalmOS-based PDA, Clié which is far more of a multimedia-oriented device than Palm's own models.

Still, Palm is pushing hard to grow its marketshare in Japan, where it has traditionally been kept well behind the likes of Sharp and Casio. Palm is promoting its consumer-oriented m100 and colour IIIc models in Japan, while Sony is helping grow the platform's share of the market as a whole.

Sharp said it will launch the new Zaurus in the US in the first half of next year, around the time Sony is expected to ship the colour version of the Clié and Palm will introduce further colour models. If all that doesn't suggest these companies expect the worldwide shortage of small, colour LCDs to have eased by early 2001, nothing does.

Whatever, Sharp is going to have a tough time going up against Palm, Sony and Handspring in the US, where the Palm platform dominates the PDA arena with around 80 per cent of the market. ®

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