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> Are Sharp Stupid Or Is There A Reason, Why do Sharp work against itself?
antikristian
post Dec 11 2004, 04:42 PM
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We all know about it, sharp seems allmost to carry a grudge against linux users "out of the box". Why did Sharp go in reverse, and accidentally break linux compatibility? Why were there guides to how you should use zaurus with linux in the 5500 series on their websites? Who stops distributing a product because of low sales when they never marketed the products at all? How much would it cost them to continue the support of their websites and the community? Why do they again and again cancel products, go out publically and announce that "our product will not be sold anymore- get lost but come back when we are ready"

Are they just stupid, are they slaves to competing parions in the board of directors? are they beeing threatned to discontinue or not market their products by competitors like palm or Microsoft? Do they let anybody work for them? I'm pretty pissed, I own the 5500 and nobody, least sharp has provided a proper replacement for it.

There are designs which one can license for linux pdas, If your main supplyer are total noobs, then one must also consider creating an industry of ones own. THAT would be cool, a community company selling pdas over the net to people who actually want the products.
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ev1l
post Dec 11 2004, 05:08 PM
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Cost-based decision making dry.gif
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Omicron
post Dec 11 2004, 07:05 PM
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In my opinion, I think it is just plan poor management. It is clear (to all of us anyway) that Sharp has superior engineering staff and their products are ussually unrivaled at the time of their release (with perhaps the SL3000 being the only exception...since it lacks some power compared to other on the market, but it IS a nice item all the same).

Anyway, Sharp has horrible palmtop marketing or perhaps does not budget for marketing. I think these Zauruses were always made with the intent of selling 100 of thoiusands of units to business and not to individual users. But Sharp never realized that they need to convince the IT admins of the usefulness of the proiduct AND and management as well.

Anyone in IT would love a Sharp (especially in the growing Linux segment), but the real bread and butter sales are convincing executives that they are indispensible.

Look at the blackberry...the first few generation did pretty much just email and limited at that, but it became an indispensible part of being an executive. Hence, see this increased prodiuctivity, blackberries trickled down the ranks (exploding in sales volume as it went).

Sharp made extraordinary hardware, and built it on the most flexible and open platform, but they failed to deliver out-of-the-box productivity boosts (except for the IT admin segment, who ussually don't make the big $$ calls).

Sharp thought "if we build the hardware on an open platform the open source world will bring us the software to drive the sales"...well, that was a nice IDEA, biut they gave the plan all of about one year to materialize into something great. They also did not offer developers much incentive becuase although their products were open, their corporation acted like a silent partner. Very few people from sharp ever communicated with the developer community and those that did seem to be either low on the tottem pole or just not "in the know"....so developers were left in the dark until the product was released. Which is insane !!

I mean look at the video game market, all the big players MS, Sony, and Nintendo, get their development platform in the hands of delopers way way way before product launch. With sharp, we had to play catch-up only to be blind sided again and again.

By the time we understoof the 5500 and were just about ready with products, Sharp switches the whole structure of things for the 5600, without a warning to anyone, even (as far as I know) theKompany software company.

Sharp has lost all crediibility in the development community and with all these unsupported products, I doubt too many companies are going to invest their IT infrastructure to ANY future sharp product.

I own a C860 (Still on the fence about the 6000L or 3000). and I plan to keep these becuase the hardware is excellent and the platform is still wide open. I strongly believe this product will lhave a long life in the hands of the guru and experts becuase nothing fills this space. Now it ain't a big space, but it is one that I feel will literally live as long as these units continue to function. Much like the old HP 200LX, it has a core of users that will continue to share info and push the unit further and further and keep it in line with all new technology developments for as long as is humanly possible. (I mean when the 200LX was designed, no one ever considered the idea of surfing the Net with it, but yet it does that and tons more, all with a monochrome screen and a 80186 processor and 2MB of memory....granted the hardware has been expanded (hacked) to doublespeed the CPU and run with as much as 96MB of ram).

HP 200LX palmtops were the hands-down best thing going at the time and still kick a considerable amount of ass today, but the newer HP units adopted MS WINCE and are now pretty much an also-ran with many other devices. I mean, they got some nice machines, but nothing that really makes them shine like linux, and all the portable software that that entails.

(Discliamer, I don't folow all these companies anymore, so maybe their products have gotten better in the last few years, but once I got a Sharp 5500 and surfed, watch movies, got email, played EMUs, etc, etc,etc I never looked back.)

Perhaps someday a company with marry superior engineering with incredible marketing and we will have a palmtop with the impact that the IPOD had on the MP3 world. Not that IPOD is so special now, but when it first hit the streets, it was a superior mp3 collaboration of technology and incredible marketing. So much so that even though there are better players, people still consider the Ipod the unit to own.

Sharp Zauruses could have been the Ipod of the paltop market (on MORE than one occassion)...but they lacked the ability to communicate (meaning LISTEN and TALK) with their developer community and their marketing approach was effectively "The unit will sell itself"...which is pretty much NEVER true...at least not to start.

The first Zauruses were world changing devices, the inital reviews were littered with speculation about all that these devices could do that was never done before. But business does not buy on specualtion, they biuy on solid products. And only a well informed development community working hand in hand with the hardware manufacturer can develop solid prooducts that are ready at hardware launch. I think the 5000D was the only pre-release hardware attempt ever made by Sharp. I suspect it was not upto their expectations of sucess, so they never did it again....which is dumb becuase the developers (open-source community members by nature if not name) had never gone thriu that process and it takes time to work the kinks out of any system as compex as a pre-release of hardware to facilitate software at launch. Had Sharp marketed heavily and kept a strong hardware pre-release to developers, by the time the c700 hit the (US market) shelves the world of PDAs/palmtops could have been an entirely different place. (But it never even hit the US shelves becuase Sharp convinced itself that American buyers did not want a clamshell device.

Do you know anyone who is not looking to upgrade their old cellphone to the new clamshell models?

If so, they are in the minority. Sharp can count Nokia as one of it's partners in unfathamable misiunderstanding of the US (and I would guess European) markets.

Whew....Okay, I feel better now. Thanks for the rant.

O
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ArchiMark
post Dec 11 2004, 10:13 PM
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Amen, Omicron!

Mark
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geekgrrrl
post Dec 11 2004, 10:36 PM
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Let me join the chorus of accolades for the HP 200LX, and mourn for mine that died in 2002. I actually ran an e-mail list with that palmtop as well as surfing the web and composing business correspondence, etc.. If I needed to get a letter off or put together a flier while I was travelling I'd just go into an Office Max or Office Depot, print out the hard copy of one of their demo printers, then make as many copied as I needed in their copy center. The thing would run for days on a couple AA batteries too- I once spent the scenicly challenged parts of a 2 day train trip on the Empire Builder working on the LX on just one pair of AA batteries!

Potentially the Zauri can be just as useful and longlived, provided it's following continues. A lot of the credit for keeping the LX alive goes to Thadeus Publishing, who still support the LX at www.palmtoppaper.com. Sharp's derilection of duty to support the Zaurus creates a vacuum that some entrepreneur could fill, providing a service to us users as well as a steady income for years to come.

GeekGrrrl
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ev1l
post Dec 12 2004, 07:18 AM
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QUOTE(Omicron @ Dec 11 2004, 07:05 PM)
If so, they are in the minority. Sharp can count Nokia as one of it's partners in unfathamable misiunderstanding of the US (and I would guess European) markets.

Even Nokia wised up. I'm getting a Nokia 6260 on Monday ph34r.gif
It's so ridiculously cool, it does the same flip-trick as the Z (you can close it with the screen outside).
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adf
post Dec 15 2004, 12:40 PM
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This seems all so eerily familiar..... at least this time there are japanes consumers keeping the hardware development going.

adf
former own of Amiga 500 anfd Amiga 3000 (O MY GOD --3000!!!!! aiyeeeeeeeeeeeee)
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kopsis
post Dec 15 2004, 02:44 PM
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The problem with the Zaurus in the US market (and probably the European market as well) is that the PDA market peaked just before the Zaurus hit the scene and the market has been in steady decline ever since.

PDAs were invented to be PIMs (personal information managers). And PDAs do make marvelous PIMs, but most people don't need much more from a PIM than what's in their cell phone. In fact most people don't even need that. Where I work, standard practice is to go into Outlook each moring and print out your calendar for the day. It's primitive, and it doesn't beep to let you know you have a meeting coming up, but for most people it's "good enough". Telling them that they should spend hundreds of dollars on a device (plus time to learn to us it) to replace a free technique that works great for them is a really tough sell.

The low end of the PDA market (<$200) has been eroded by mid range cell phones. Most phones have basic PIM functionality (address book, calendar, and todo list) and though they don't even come close to their PDA counterparts in terms of features and ease of use, they're surprisingly adequate for most users. I carry my Zaurus almost everywhere and yet I have switched to using my Ericsson T610 as my PIM. The phone syncs via Bluetooth to Outlook (which I hate but am forced to use) on my PC and does a perfectly good job of reminding me about meetings and todos and letting me look up contact info. I wouldn't want to have to enter a lot of info on the phone, but then I seldom ever entered anything into the PIM apps in the Zaurus. I'd put the info in at my PC and just sync it down. The Palm Pilot was a brilliant idea when cell phones were less ubiquitous. But today most people either want to or have to carry their phone everywhere ... they don't want to have to deal with a second device just for their calendar and address book.

The middle of the PDA market ($200 - $400) is under siege from "smart phones" that give you a PalmOS, PocketPC, or Symbian PDA in a mobile phone package. The smart phones can run the same apps as their PDA counterparts while allowing you to carry one less device. Some have handwriting recognition, others have small keyboards, all do a pretty good job of replacing a mid range PDA. Granted the smart phones are more expensive than an equivalent PDA, but when you look at getting a mid range PDA plus a mid range phone, the price difference isn't all that great.

The high end of the PDA market ($400+ ... where the current Zaurus models fall) is being destroyed by the latest crop of small laptops. Let's face it, how many people are going to spend $600 on a PDA when they can pick up a brand new 12" iBook for $1000? Yes, there are a few of us that are willing to sacrifice features for portability, but we're definitely a minority. The laptop isn't as easy to carry as a PDA, but it gives you a DVD player, much bigger screen, full keyboard, faster CPU, and lots more memory and storage. Battery life (which was once a PDA's ace in the hole) on laptops has gotten a lot better in recent years while on PDAs it's gotten worse. $400+ territory is where the purchase stops being "consumption" and starts becoming an "investment". As a result people start taking a serious look at return on investment and have less of a problem spending significantly more if it appears that will get them significantly better capabilities.

Because they're general purpose devices, PDAs (including the Zaurus) really aren't that good at the things ordinary consumers (both home and business) want to do. PDAs make ok audio players, but how do they compare to an iPod? They make ok game platforms, but how do they compare to a Nintendo DS? They make ok video players, but how do they compare to a portable DVD player? They're ok for viewing/editing documents, but how do they compare to a small laptop?

If you're Sharp, how do you market a device whose features pale in comparison to what you can get from dedicated devices? The only real selling point is the "convergence" but that's just not that important to the American consumer. And if you doubt that, just ask yourself how many people have a PC and an Xbox/PS2/Gamecube and a Tivo? The PC could (if properly configured) do the job of all three devices, yet people have no problem with the idea of owning all three.

Now, if you're reading this, you know all kinds of valid reasons why the Zaurus is a wonderful thing. But do you really think your reasons would be enough to convince the average Best Buy shopper to part with $500+ of their hard earned cash? Or how about the business people in your company? Not the IT types, I'm talking middle managment or the average cubicle worker. The Zaurus (or any other high end PDA) is a wonderful, amazing device that average Americans really can't even begin to take advantage of.

Sure there are lots of things Sharp could have done better, but in the end would they really have made a difference? Even Sony, a master of the US consumer electronics market, couldn't make enough profit off the US PDA market to justify sticking it out. Like it or not, the asteriod has hit the portable electronics market and it's only a matter of time before the last of the PDA dinosaurs die off.
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nathanwms
post Dec 15 2004, 03:24 PM
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Dave, well said! I agree with you that the death of the typical PDA is all but certain. What are your thoughts on the numerous Personal Video Players hitting the market? It appears that there may be a small but growing market for handheld multi-media devices, such as the soon to be announced Archos AV500:

Specs
- Portable Media Player
- Digital Video Recorder
- Audio Player (MP3, WMA, WMA-DRM, WAV, maybe AAC)
- PDA
- Wifi & Bluetooth - thru CF slot
- 704x480 screen resolution
- 30 fps video playback
- USB host (ext kb, etc)

Could it be that this is the type of device the next Zaurus should be. A full featured handheld multi-media device that allows you to schedule and record video (like Tivo) on to the device and take it with you along with your music, pics, videos, games, PIMs, and application programs.....and have WiFi, Bluetooth AND an attached keyboard.....while fitting in your pocket.

Though there is still the competition with small laptops, as you mentioned, there is no doubt that the popularity of these handheld multi-media devices is growing. Who knows, throw in the ability to schedule and record Satellite Radio on a device like this and we may have the device that will dominate for the next 10 years or so.
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bluedevils
post Dec 15 2004, 05:29 PM
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The blackberry is proving that execs don't mind a bigger phone if it provides more functionality. The future is a clamshell/blackberry sized device with a phone, wifi, and bluetooth built in. Using a bluetooth headset means you can take/make calls without lugging the main device out of your purse or pocket. The bigger device will provide the greater functionality of a portable computer/multimedia device. The latest blackberries now have bluetooth and I see everybody at my work salivating over it.
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Guest_tapjpa_*
post Dec 15 2004, 06:02 PM
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We started rolling out Blackberries to our exec's about 6 months ago they are the biggest hit since laptop's got popular.
In the next couple months we are going to start providing them to most employess ( well managers disgression ).
I haven't gotten the chance to use one more than a minute when they get deployed. Hopefully I'll get my chance soon.
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soundwave106
post Dec 15 2004, 06:43 PM
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Yep. The Zaurus's real strength -- based on my limited playing around with the SL-6000L I have -- is Linux type applications. This would be a tough sell for someone who merely wants to keep a contact and todo list. smile.gif

As an example, one of the programs that has impressed me the most on the Zaurus is pure-ftpd. Of all the Zaurus programs (many I've seen issues with), this one seems to work very well. Provided I keep turn the suspend-mode feature off, one could easily use the Zaurus as a small, zero-noise FTP server. That's neat, but who else but a geek would think so. smile.gif

I admit that were it not for the cheap closeout price (I got one of the $379 Amazon closeout deals) and the fact that it ran Linux (meaning a greater degree of customization), I wouldn't have gotten the Zaurus. At that price, I chose over similar price designs based on OS (Linux vs. PocketPC) and some of the features (durability, stay-on memory, Opera browser, and thumb keyboards being positives). At list price, I would've thought they were smoking something and gone a little higher for a tiny notebook.

On the other hand, I can see how you could build some nice corporate gee-whiz stuff on this. No wonder Sharp went for the corporate market.
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ArchiMark
post Dec 15 2004, 09:18 PM
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Piggy-backing off of Daves' cogent analysis of PDA's and the marketplace....

I've noticed that many people at work, 'Ooooh and Ahhh' every time they see me with one of various 'gagdets' that I have on my desk.

Whether it's my latest Zaurus, old Libretto, or the Sony Vaio U101 that I had briefly, etc....it's almost always the same scenario:

"Hey Mark, what's that?? Looks really cool! Where'd you get that???......."

So, I tell about gadget 'X' that I have and then they say

"Wow, that's great, I really should get 'X' too, I could really use that!"

So, I explain where to get 'X' (Conics, Dynamism, etc NOT Best Buy, etc) and then they ask me to email them the contact info for the various vendors and the end result is

That they never pursue or buy 'X' but keep using whatever they have (old Palm, etc).....

This scenario has repeated itself many times...

The point is that it relates I think to the 'good enough' phenomenon that Dave referred to....

People may be excited in the moment of seeing my latest and greatest....but a day later they're really not that interested/motivated to pursue/part with their hard-earned $$ for whatever it was.....

Just my 2ยข...

Mark
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ev1l
post Dec 15 2004, 10:09 PM
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QUOTE(ArchiMark @ Dec 15 2004, 09:18 PM)
People may be excited in the moment of seeing my latest and greatest....but a day later they're really not that interested/motivated to pursue/part with their hard-earned $$ for whatever it was.....

I think the problem is that on the Z the WOW factor isn't backed up that you can't obtain with a $100 Palm.
If only the full functionality range was available more easily, it'd be a different story, but right now the Z is far from plug and play if you expect to get the most out of it, and that's what kills it. In that sense, I really agree with kopsis' analysis.
I mean the Z has the guts to become an awesome convergence device. Right now it's missing the design intelligence of one, and the usable software to make it happen.
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