Sony to abandon PDA market outside Japan

Brief: The consumer-electronics giant is expected to announce today that it plans to stop selling its Clie handheld anywhere except Japan - a blow for Palm OS supplier PalmSource

Sony plans to run down stocks in Europe and the US, only launching new models in Japan, according to sources close to Sony France.

Sony France refused to comment on the news, although it is expected to make a formal announcement this afternoon.

According to IDC, the global market for PDAs fell by 12 percent in Q1 of 2004 compared to Q1 2003. Sony accounts for 9 percent of the market, behind HP and Palm.

The Clie PDA runs Palm OS, developed by PalmSource, which is 6 percent owned by Sony.

"This is a very bad news for us," said a source at PalmSource France. "Sony is our second-biggest client after Palm, and was the driving force behind a number of technical innovations. The Clie range from Sony was the only Palm OS PDA available that included support for simultaneous Bluetooth and WiFi," said the source.

According to Gartner, Q1 2004 saw Palm OS machines take just 40 percent of the market, compared to 49 percent in Q1 2003. By comparison, Microsoft and its Windows CE offering increased to 42 percent from 35 percent during the same period.