Sharp Denies It’s Leaving the U.S. Handheld Market

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Last week, it was widely reported that Sharp is pulling out of the U.S. handheld market. However, the company has since told a Japanese web site that there’s no truth to this.

According to last week’s report, Sharp was going to sell off the remaining inventory of the English version of the Zaurus SL-6000L and offer no more New Handhelds in the U.S.

This story was widely reported, even being confirmed by the Associated Press.

More recently, however, Sharp told IT Media News (Japanese) that the earlier report was incorrect. It hasn’t decided to stop selling the SL-6000L in the U.S. and will decide on case-by-case basis whether to offer future Zaurus models in this country.

Does Sharp Really Mean It?

However, it remains to be seen if Sharp really has changed its mind about the SL-6000L.

When a manufacturer announces it is ending production of a product, the companies that sell it often have difficulty getting rid of their remaining inventory of it. In this case, Amazon.com and others may have complained to Sharp that last week’s announcement was going to hamper their efforts to sell their remaining stock of SL-6000L units.

However, there is some evidence that companies aren’t just trying to dump their SL-6000L inventory. Amazon.com has actually raised its price for this model since last week, from $450 to $500.

What about Future Models?

Whether Sharp is leaving the U.S. handheld market or not, it isn’t going to stop making handhelds. Instead, it will focus on Japan, its home market. It stopped selling handhelds in Europe last year.

It’s possible that if Sharp creates a Zaurus model that proves to be especially popular in Japan, it might release this device in other countries.

More about the Zaurus SL-6000L

Sharp Zaurus SL-6000L The SL-6000L is a tablet model that hit the U.S. this spring (see picture at left). It has a 4-inch screen, which has a resolution of 480 by 640 pixels (VGA). This can be switched between portrait and landscape modes on the fly.

It has a small built-in keyboard, which is exposed by pulling down on the bottom of the device.

The SL-6000L also offers built-in Wi-Fi, an SD/MMC slot and a rechargeable, swappable 1500 mAh Lithium-polymer battery. There is an optional “sleeve” that adds a CompactFlash slot and an additional battery.

It uses Linux as its operating system, with Trolltech’s Qtopia environment providing the user interface. It has a 400 MHz Intel XScale processor and includes 64 MB of RAM and 64 MB of Flash ROM.

Thanks to Engadget for the tip.

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