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Sony exits global PDA biz

Clie - we hardly knew you

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Sony is walking away from the PDA market in the United States and Europe, citing flat sales. It will continue to develop its PalmOS-based Clie range in Japan, but won't develop any new models outside its home country beyond the most recent addition to the range, the TH-55 that it released in February. The global PDA market shrank 11 per cent in the first three months of this year, according to IDC, although shipments jumped by a third in Europe where Sony snagged a 9.3 per cent share.

It's an ominous move for PalmSource. Sony is PalmSource largest customer after PalmOne, and a minority shareholder, and the software developer had hoped to renew its appeal to the media giant with Cobalt, the ground-up rewrite of the operating system released to licensees at the New Year. Since its first Clie was released in four years ago, Sony has led the raft of PalmOS licensees by introducing multimedia features such as photography and music playback. Earlier this year PalmOne's European boss Vesey Crichton hinted that the No.1 PDA manufacturer might consider other options. PalmOS was "not viewed internally as a religion", he said.

Sony shows no sign of walking away from handheld devices, however. In recent months it has unveiled two color portable music devices, the HMP-A1 and the Vaio PCVA-HVP20, and continues to invest in its Sony Ericsson phone subsidiary.®

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