Sony Ends Clie Line of Palm-Based PDAs

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Sony Corp. will end production of its Palm-based line of Cli? personal digital assistants (PDA) in July, the Japanese-language Web site Impress reported Tuesday. The company said it would leave open the possibility of working in the future on joint ventures with other companies.

The announcement comes nine months after the company said it would no longer sell new models outside of Japan and would reassess the future of its PDA line.

The company wonit be launching any new Cli? PDAs in Japan but will continue to offer service and support for its users, a spokesperson told Impress.

The company said it would not be leaving the PDA business entirely, but would possibly partner with others to create hybrid PDAs and cellular phones, such as Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB.

Analysts: No surprise

Sonyis departure from the stand-alone PDA market is little surprise to analysts who have seen demand for PDAs wane and use of cellular phones with PDA-like features grow.

"Leaving the U.S. market and selling its PDAs just in Japan meant Sony had little of chance to grow its sales," said Steve Baker, an analyst with NPD. "Given the popularity of the cellular phone in Japan, I think it had little chance to survive."

The announcement comes as no surprise to Michael Gartenberg, PDA analyst for Jupiter Research, given recent numbers from NPD, who reported Sonyis market share had fallen to 10.2% in 2004, compared to 25.7% in the same period a year earlier.

PDA U.S. MARKETSHARE (BY UNITS)*
MANUFACTURER 2003 2004
1. PalmOne 47.8% 64.1%
2. HP 16.5% 21.5%
3. Sony 25.7% 10.2%
(* = Wireless devices, such as the Handspring Treo, are not included in this category.)
Source: NPD Group

"I think what is clear is that their strategy wasnit working," Mr. Gartenberg told The Mac Observer. "Sonyis market share has been in somewhat of a decline for a little while now and Sony has brought many innovations for the PDA space, but some of their more recent models may have been too innovative, almost, to the marketplace in terms of what they were attempting to deliver at the high end of the line."

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