Sharp to plot worldwide Linux PDA plan

Hot clamshell Zaurus may yet ship outside Japan

Will Sharp ever bring its latest Linux-based Zaurus PDAs to Europe?

Postings on the company's own Zaurus developer web site citing Sharp UK customer services claim that the company has "no plans" to offer new models or upgrades here.

However, company insiders suggest the product line's fate may not be sealed.

In July, Sharp told The Register that it would not release any new Zaurus in the UK during Q3 but that no decision had been taking regarding potential Q4 launches. At that point the Zaurus was discontinued in Germany and the UK.

If the Zaurus DevNet posting is correct, it looks like a Q4 release been ruled out.

The Zaurus certainly appears to have won some success outside the UK. It's still promoted on Sharp's US web site, which lists two models: the original SL-5500, launched in Europe in April 2002, and the SL-5600, an updated model launched the following November.

In July Sharp launched two second-generation clamshell Zaurus PDAs, SL-C750 and SL-C760. To date, these devices have only been made available to Japanese buyers. Both machines are based on the OpenPDA platform, itself built upon Linux and Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME). Inside the clamshell case is a full QWERTY keypad. The LCD rotates, Tablet PC-style, to allow the device to be used like a standard pen-based PDA.

A Sharp spokeswoman told The Register that the two devices had not been made available in the UK thus far for "technical reasons", though she declined to elaborate upon what those issues might be.

However, on a positive note, company sources tell us that Sharp will shortly conduct a worldwide review of its Zaurus product strategy next month. While that may not necessarily lead to the release of the clamshell models in the UK, Europe and/or the US, the very fact that a review is taking place suggests that such a move has not been ruled out. ®

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