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Full Version: Sharp's Latest Product - A Robot Smartphone!
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Sharp is about to release a new smartphone - not a classic one, this one is shaped as a robot!

It has voice and face recognition, speech synthesis, animated arms and legs and an built-in projector. The price has yet to be announced, I'm curious to know how much it will cost, what is sure is that it's damn cute biggrin.gif

Some months after its release, it looks like it hasn't been as successful as Sharp hoped to be, most probably because of its high price (¥198,000, i.e. ~1700 EUR or 1900 USD):

It also doesn't help the fact that Toyota is planning to release a similar device in 2017, but with a much smaller price tag:

I don't think that the Toyota product is relevant to the success of the RoBoHon. It is not comparable; it doesn't have a phone, touchscreen, projector or user camera. I'm sure that Sharp spent a lot of money and learned a lot integrating all of that into a usable device.

As a product who are they targeting ? Toys for children, companions for older people, assistant for busy people, smartphone ? It's not clear and that's probably why it's not successful. I would guess that this was aimed at investigating robots; Japan and Korea have a problem on the horizon where there will soon be considerably more older people than younger people and no one to look after them. Robots are seen as a solution.

A lot of Japanese tech companies have a "hero" product/technology that they use for marketing purposes and for investigating new technologies, that are not necessarily the most profitable. For example, Sony had Aibo, Honda has Asimo, Mazda was known for rotary engines, etc.
True about Toyota's robot, I didn't notice that it doesn't include any phone function. About Sharp's intended audience, my guess is that Robohon is an attempt to deliver the idea that a smartphone can be a small robot, too, and that it can be useful and not only cute/entertaining, hence that it would appeal to everyone. This might happen someday in Japan, sooner or later, since japanese people are known to have a soft spot for both robots and cute gadgets. From the other side, a device like Toyota's one is cheaper, and consumers might more easily adopt the idea of having a small robot and a smartphone as two separate products, and only at a later stage find the need of having only one device instead of two.

Anyway, I fear that Sharp, given its past financial problems, has no longer the resources for expensive and not profitable projects like this.

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