Sharp is ready to enter the global PDA market

The leader of Japan's PDA (personal digital assistant) market with its Zaurus series, is ready to enter the competitive markets of North America and Europe. The company will unveil its prototype PDA for overseas markets at the Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) show that starts on Aug. 25 in Berlin, a company executive said Wednesday.

The company plans to market its Linux-based PDA in North America and Europe in the fourth quarter this year and hopes to sell 1 million units a year worldwide, said Hiroshi Uno, a manager of Sharp's mobile systems division.

According to International Data Corp.'s (IDC) recent report, worldwide shipments of handheld devices were 13.6 million in 2000 and IDC predicted an annual growth of 39 percent from 2000 to 2005. If Sharp reaches its targets it will have five to 10 percent of the global market share for PDAs.

The Zaurus has one third of Japan's one million PDA market. While many consumer electronic manufacturers such as Sony Corp., Toshiba Corp. and NEC Ltd. have recently entered the market, Sharp says it has confidence in its device, which it has been making since 1993.

The Zaurus is successful because of its strong Japanese-language centered platform, which offers accurate handwriting recognition and more software for Japanese users, according to Masaaki Takeda, a spokesman for Sharp.

But as a newcomer to the global market, Sharp is developing the PDA based on Lineo Inc.'s Embedix embedded Linux, which will support Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java, so that it will be compatible with the Japanese Zaurus, said Uno. The prototype was unveiled at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco in June this year.

IDC is a subsidiary of International Data Group Inc., the parent company of IDG News Service.

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