The alliance couples Sharp’s handset and display technologies with DoCoMo’s experience in high-speed mobile data. Sharp is in a good position to produce the device: its PDAs which lack mobile capabilities have sold extremely well. The major factor determining the new device’s success will be the speed, quality and range of DoCoMo’s network.
Sharp and NTT DoCoMo plan to launch a PDA with 3G mobile capabilities in Japan this summer.
Sharp, the Japanese consumer electronics firm, has announced plans for a 3G handheld computer which will be used with NTT DoCoMo’s 3G mobile network. The personal digital assistant (PDA) will be similar to Sharp’s Zaurus model, but with an added wireless communications function.
Sharp is the biggest LCD manufacturer and the fourth largest mobile handset manufacturer in Japan. The company is already focusing on high-growth products that also exploit its display technology expertise, such as flat-panel televisions and color-screen cells. The Zaurus range, with built-in miniature cameras and color displays (but no 3G connection), has already sold well in Japan.
These factors put Sharp in a strong position to produce the new device. Its display quality will be a major concern to business users dealing with facts, figures and graphs, while ease of use and size will also be key factors in consumer appraisal.
Meanwhile, Japan’s largest mobile operator, NTT DoCoMo, provides a 3G service that allows high-speed video conferencing and Internet use. This should give customers of the new device instant access to their corporate data and to the Internet. However, it is vital that the device is easy to use and quick, since constant ‘hourglass’ waiting icons will not be acceptable to users.
Whether the PDA proves to be successful or not will probably boil down to its ease of use and reliability. As a result, its future seems to depend as strongly on the 3G mobile operator as it does on Sharp. In Japan, the combined capabilities of Sharp and DoCoMo certainly give it a decent chance of success.