Sharp to seed developers with Linux PDA — Sharp is planning to make its SL-5000D handheld available to developers from today, marking the company’s return to the international mobile computing market. Sharp products continue to command significant market share in Japan, but the company has been absent from Western European and North American markets for some years. In the early and mid 1990s, before the rising popularity of Psion palmtops in Europe and Palm devices in the US, Sharp’s handheld computing products occupied leadership positions in many international markets. The SL-5000 uses Lineo’s Linux operating system and features Java compatibility, a StrongARM processor, 320 x 240 colour screen, slid-away keyboard, MP3 audio and MPEG-4 video capabilities. It uses Trolltech’s graphical user interface, Insignia’s Jeode Java platform and a web browser provided by Norwegian developer Opera AS. Sharp will begin shipping the the SL-5000 to developers from today, encouraging the creation of a development community prior to the public launch of the device. Sharp has previously stated its intention to regain a leading market position within a year of shipping its first new consumer PDA. “Sharp believes that consumers are just waiting for the kind of power and flexibility this operating environment brings to palmtop computing,” commented Steve Petix, Sharp’s Associate Vice President, Mobile & IT Solutions Group. “We’ve worked hard on two things that will ensure the success of the Zaurus: the power and reliability of the hardware platform; and the richness of the application environment.” Further information from the Sharp web-site.