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Thu, Jun 03, 2004 - Page 12 News List

Sony's PDAs fail to leave an impression in the US


Sony Electronics says it won't release new models of its Clie hand-held computers in the US this year, effectively signaling its exit from the US market.

The consumer electronics giant said Tuesday it will continue product development and sales in Japan but that its efforts in the US will end when it sells existing supplies of four Clie models.

"Sony is taking this time to examine the conventional PDA [personal digital assistant] business and how it will transition into the future," the company said in a statement.

Sony Electronics, the San Diego-based unit of Japan's Sony Corp, had 8.4 percent of the worldwide PDA market in the first quarter, down from 12.2 percent for all of last year, according to market researcher Gartner Inc.

The company has lost ground to palmOne Inc, maker of the Tungsten T3 and Zire 72 hand-held computers. PalmOne, like Sony, uses the Palm operating system.

Sony didn't elaborate on the reasons for its withdrawal but Gartner analyst Todd Kort said it was increasingly difficult for the company to continue investing in what was probably a money-losing business.

He expects that Sony's decision to end sales in the US will lead to a worldwide withdrawal.

"Rather than pull the rug out in one day, they're going down gently," said Kort. "Japan is not a big enough market for them to limp along with."

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