Yesterday I got official information that Sharp ended Zaurus line — last production will be in February 2007 and then nothing — no new models, no building of older models. Many people wrote that this is bad thing, that they will miss new toys with Zaurus name…
I am not one of them. Since SL-C3000 (called “spitz”) model I had a feeling that Sharp is not able to create new handheld device for mass market. There was few new things in it but basically it was old clamshell line on steroids. Palmtop built to be used as English<>Japanese dictionary rather then as PDA. Then they released SL-C1000 (“akita)” which was spitz without hard drive (in form of 4GB CompactFlash microdrive) but with 128MB of Flash memory like it was in end of previous clamshell line. Both models were selling quite good and one day Sharp merged Akita and 4GB microdrive and thats how SL-C3100 (“borzoi”) was created. Again nothing new… Some months ago they got out of stock of 4GB cards so SL-C3200 (“terrier”) was created — with 6GB microdrive.
But those models were much worse then other palmtops on market… Windows Mobile devices got Bluetooth as standard, more and more models got WiFi inside (now even 802.11g instead of old 802.11b standard). Sharp did not even tried to compete with them. There were rumours that there was a plan to release SL-C3500 which would get WiFi inside but knowing Sharp it would be some shitty wlan-ng USB stick with drivers lacking WPA and any good support.
Add to it their lack of any support to users… Can you imagine that 2006 models were sold with few years old software created for first Zaurus models? They only did some small modifications to get some of new features supported. Someone told one day:
Sharp should concentrate on building Zaurus models. But they should not touch software — OpenZaurus or pdaX teams do it in much better way.
So I think that it is good that they finally ended Zaurus line — it was visible that they do not have idea which way to go and how to support users of own toys.
BTW: some people asked what will OpenZaurus team do now — we are working on 3.5.5 release for all existing models (except SL-A300 as usual). After release most of us will probably concentrate on fixing bugs, adding software and will move to Ångström distribution as this is future of embedded distros.