Sony to Suspend Clie Handheld Line

Sony has divulged that they will not be releasing any new Clie Handhelds products in the coming fall. Sony will be suspending new Clie product development for the US while they reassess the direction of the conventional PDA market.

Sony has issued a press statement in which they announce they are going to reassess the direction of the conventional PDA market and will not introduce any new Clie handheld models in the us this fall.

Sony says they will take this time to examine the conventional PDA business and how it will transition in the future. New Clie product development and sales will continue in the Japanese market only. Sony continued to elaborate that they view wireless communications features as a key pillar to their business strategy and that they plan to continue their collaboration with Sony Ericsson.

Sony has pledged to continue the same level of service and support for Clie handheld users and will honor all existing limited warranties. The current Clie lineup will continue to be sold and supported which includes the TJ27, TJ37, UX50 and the TH55 handhelds.

Sony has been a Palm OS licensee since 1999. The Clie personal entertainment organizer product line, has brought to market some of the most innovative Palm Powered products.

At the last PalmSource Developer conference in February, Sony's Handheld division President Masanobu Yoshida announced that expectations were high for Palm OS Cobalt. He had stated that Sony was strongly committed to advancing and evolving the Palm handheld space at the time.

"Sony's Clie sales have been slipping the past few quarters and they haven't kept up the aggressive release pace they once had" says Gartner Handheld Analyst Todd Kort. In addition, he pointed to recent belt tightening within Sony and that the market for the multimedia handheld many not have been as big as Sony thought. Other factors such as heavy competition in the US handheld market, especially in the low end, and the high cost of development and engineering in Japan may have also played a role.

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Bad News

chinchorrero @ 6/1/2004 9:15:49 AM #
Bad News for Palmone.

"Life is Too Short"
Tungsten T3-Sony ericsson T610,HBH-60,SanDisk 256Mb Sd Card
RE: Bad News
fridael @ 6/1/2004 9:25:46 AM #
This is bad news for PalmSource, yes, not necessarily for PalmOne. Losing a licensee just prior to introducing a new OS to the market is not exactly good PR. This effectively leaves the PalmOS market to PalmOne. (Not taking into account the smaller licensees like Garmin and TapWave, whose combined market share must be minuscule.)

That said, Sony has been losing market share steadily over the last few years, so this decision doesn't exactly come out of the blue. What *is* surprising is that they've kept releasing new units this long. (The TH55 is not a bad device at all, actually.)

The only way I see Sony coming back in the PalmOS fold is through them releasing OS5-powered SmartPhones. Now that would be a major coup for PalmSource.

There's a well-known marketing law which states that a market will eventually be dominated by two players, and it certainly holds in this case. (I.e. PalmOne and HP.)

RE: Bad News - what?
nrosser @ 6/1/2004 9:35:16 AM #
More like - 'bad news for PalmSource' - wouldn't you say?

RE: Bad News
Foo Fighter @ 6/1/2004 9:49:20 AM #
More than just bad news. You might say it is death blow. We're back to 1996 where only one Palm handheld maker exists. Not counting Tapwave of course because they are subset of the PDA market.

Unless PalmSource can quickly sign on a strong new licensee...Microsoft and it's throng of PPC vendors will fill the void left by Sony, and take a COMMANDING lead in the handheld market.

Contributing Editor,

RE: Bad News
Ben S @ 6/1/2004 9:53:54 AM #
I wouldn't exactly call the PPC makers a "throng". More like "HP and assorted debris".

RE: Bad News
Foo Fighter @ 6/1/2004 9:57:27 AM #
Are you saying, I mean Dell doesn't count as a major force? ;-)

Contributing Editor,
RE: Bad News
Foo Fighter @ 6/1/2004 9:58:42 AM #
Actually that "throng" is going be whittled down a bit as well. I expect Toshiba to exit the market this year as well. So then it will be two against one.

Contributing Editor,
RE: Bad News
LiveFaith @ 6/1/2004 1:55:23 PM #
PSRC taking it on the chin over at the Naz! Down about 15% with an ugly looking chart since the announcement. Uggh.

Pat Horne;
RE: Bad News
hkklife @ 6/1/2004 3:46:15 PM #
Panasonic seems to be the ONLY hope now for PalmSource to sign on as a new licensee. They could make a line of ruggedized but still consumer friendly (think the yellow Motorola iDen cell phone style) PDAs with dual wireless and good battery life. With their strong support for GPS, it'd be a natural fit. Maybe even a Panasonic Palm OS PDA w/ 2mp digicam and Leica lens??

Apple didn't bother with a Palm/in-house PDA 3 years ago so there's surely no chance of them jumping onboard now. Toshiba might still be an outside shot but they've gotten their noses bloodied once with PPC and they are unlikely to jump onboard again so quickly.

Overall, though, a very bad sign indeed. Now the ball's REALLY in PLMO's court to hit their biggest smash ever with the T4. Now an entire industry's hopes can basically be tagged on this fall's new releases.

RE: Bad News
benamy @ 6/1/2004 7:25:25 PM #
Everyone is forcasting the unknown.

Sony is not the end of PalmSource. PalmOne is so successful because PalmSource has such a successful OS that runs America's most successful connected PDA, the Treo 600.

The question is has Sony been exceeding its minimum royalty payments with its losing marketshare with the Clie line?

The next question is if Sony has not been exceeding its minimum is it still a licensee and what is its minimum and how is PalmSources profitability going to be effected this coming quarter?

The question is how did todays annoucement effects PSRC profitability or did it???????

It is a disappointment the CLIE line is being dropped just as Cobalt is getting ready to surface but why all the doom and gloom about PSRC. HOW IS IT EFFECTED ON A MONEY BASIS??

RE: Bad News
UZI4U182 @ 6/1/2004 9:45:00 PM #
Learn how to read. It's being SUSPENDED, not dropped.

I'd like to add that I think it is REALLY stupid that they;ll continue development in Japan. Sounds like discrimination to me :(
Main PDA: NX70v + WL100

RE: Bad News
abosco @ 6/1/2004 9:51:25 PM #
Know whose fault this is mainly, besides the engineers' focus on features that were unnecessary and unwanted? Fansites that do nothing but praise their products, look at the best side of things, never give light to the bad part of the products, and act like everything is peachy-f'ing-****. The fact is that Sony should have been SCORNED LIKE HELL by all sites like they were here for dropping Bluetooth in many US models. They should have been scolded harder for waiting so long to release a non-clamshell model with HVGA. They should have been urinated all over for keeping with their incredibly slow HHE and miniscule RAM, which couldn't even give the original Pilot 1000 penis envy. I am absolutely furious and thoroughly disgusted with both Sony's R&D department with how they didn't understand the market craved FULLY WORKING DUAL SLOTS, a fast processor, dual wireless, an abundant amount of memory, and acceptable battery life, as well as the same amount of fury and disgust with the sites that praised them (and quite highly, at that, this site not being one of them) for delivering overpriced, underfeatured products. I simply cannot stress enough how annoyed I am with this situation. Absolutely killer for Sony (bad PR to look uncertain), PalmSource (losing almost half your revenue), AND PalmOne (leaving the marketshare to be further divided AGAINST yours, putting you in a position with less consumer and developer support behind the OS you run).

NX80v + Wifi + BT + T616
RE: Bad News
Puppy @ 6/1/2004 11:19:33 PM #
The main reason I care is that PalmOne's PDAs have HORRIBLE reliability. Just terrible. Besides all the horror stories on any PalmOne forum, I personally have had 5 of the 5 PalmOne PDAs I've purchased fail or become useless. (Luckily 4 of the 5 were screwed up out of the box, so I could return them. My IIIxe's digitizer quit working after about 8 months).

My most recent experience is with a Tungsten E, which has the horrible "humming screen" problem, and randomly shut itself off. As much as I love PalmOS, and abhor WinCE, without Sony around, I may have to take a serious look at WinCE. Unless PalmOne starts looking in to quality control...

RE: Bad News
Puppy @ 6/1/2004 11:26:29 PM #
I should note that I've also owned two Handsprings and three Sony units, all of which worked perfectly (and all but one of which was passed off to a relative and is still in use).

But PalmOne is just a joke. IMO the people who design their hardware have a lot of good ideas, but either the designs just aren't reliable, or they're being built too cheap. It's gotten to the point where Palm's static/USB dying problem on the old M5xx line looks like "the good old days".

RE: Bad News
miner78 @ 6/2/2004 12:41:57 AM #
Darn it. My T/E that I bought only 6 months ago died suddenly and I was looking into getting a Clie. I'm back to my old Visor Deluxe that was retired after 4 years of trouble free service. I don't think I'll get another Palmone device.

RE: Bad News
benamy @ 6/2/2004 10:09:20 AM #


UZ14U182 scolded me for saying Sony DROPPED the CLIE line because Sony SUSPENDED the CLIE line. Who cares buddy!

The issue is how is this going to effect the heart and soul of the Palm line and the Palm line is the OS that Palmsource makes not the hardware by any company. The only thing that is going to effect the Palm OS is if PSRC can not make at least break even profitability.

So again--How is this going to effect PSRC profits?

Has anyone ever read any information that they can post that shows Sony's licensee agreement. PSRC has quoted portions of PLMO agreement. Does anyone have that info for Sony from PSRC?

RE: Bad News
dona83 @ 6/2/2004 11:40:36 AM #
Note that they're being dropped in the _US_ to reassess and reorganize their game plan on this side of the Pacific. They will still be made in Japan... seems they finally figured that North Americans have different demands in a PDA than the Japanese do, like bigger styluses and bigger and well layed out buttons for our bigger hands. Just like what Toyota, Honda, and Sony-Ericcson's been doing, we're gonna start getting Clie PDAs not sold in Japan.


RE: Bad News
Puppy @ 6/2/2004 4:44:00 PM #
If they're taking a short break to start coming out with PDAs designed for the US, THAT would rock. Sony's current Clie's are just weird and uncomfortable. Unfortunately, I seriously doubt that we'll ever see another Clie in the US.

I'm so tired of all this “smartphone” garbage. To begin with, there aren’t very many “smartphones” sold in the United States. And while in theory it sounds nifty to combine a phone and a PDA, the realtiy so far as stunk. The form factors are just too different. I’d need something that looked and acted like a normal PDA, but was also a phone. So far all the phone/PDA combos are too small to be good PDAs (and usually have keyboards on them), and awkward for phones. On top of that, the prices for the things are hideous. They always cost MORE than a good high-end PDA and high-end phone combined, and aren’t as good as either.

RE: Bad News
Foo Fighter @ 6/2/2004 5:02:19 PM #
Taking a short break? Dear God are you in denial or what? ;-)

Sony isn't just taking a break...they are LEAVING. Would Dell take a break from making PC's until Longhorn arrives?

Contributing Editor,

RE: Bad News
mikecane @ 6/2/2004 5:19:56 PM #
>>>Taking a short break? Dear God are you in denial or what? ;-)

Be kind. He does not know that when Japanese say "Reassess," they *really* mean "Cut our losses and run like hell."

Stupid Americans think "Hai" means "Yes." Bakkayaro!

RE: Bad News
tooele @ 6/4/2004 11:35:13 AM #
Unless palm source can find a new big company to start buying their os microsoft might win again. I for one don't want to see them win in something else. I have never owned a PPC and don't plan to. I like palm and will continue to buy them.

Told you so!

Foo Fighter @ 6/1/2004 9:30:32 AM #
I predicted this was coming back in October of last year. And I seem to remember a certain person here claiming I was crazy for entertaining such thoughts. Well, I am crazy, of course. But I was right, so here's a big raspberry for you... :P

Contributing Editor,

RE: Told you so!
drw @ 6/1/2004 9:41:37 PM #
While not exactly in the "told you so" category, my comments under the "WiFi: PDAs Dirty Little Secret" article yeilded some to call me a troll, which I'm not. I've only owned palmos devices.

When the first clie appeared next to a Palm III, I thought sony was on to something, but nowadays my habits at the pda counter are to check out all the palmone's, then the ipac's, and skip everything else.

My take on sony is that the big shots gave the developers a ton of money saying "here, now put out stuff which will increase our market share". The developers put out "jee whiz" kinda stuff, but not necessarily useful stuff or as elo put it so eloquently: "unusual devices that didn't seem to be targeted at anyone in particular"

So they got whooped by simpler Zire's and thinner iPaq's and now they are leaving with their tails between their legs. They do need to go back to the drawing board, pay a bunch of PhD's to sit on bean bags and conceptualize core realities. Just like they quit the CDMA market because they couldn't compete there either evidently. Before throwing money on a project they should spend more time thinking the thing through and not have for example 3 operating systems going at once (java, symbian, palmos)


RE: Told you so!
Fat_Man @ 6/2/2004 12:42:37 AM #

It has been a while since I have posted any remarks, but have been lurking on PIC regularly...

It's sad to see the Clie's go, I had been one of sony's stongest supporter a few years back.

Ahh... those good old days, I used to be very critical of Palm's lack of innovations, and praised Sony on their aggressiveness with their product line. Remember the days?...low-res vs. high-res, mp3 players, color vs. monochrome...

Anyway, I guess where Sony loss me was when they kept the max internal memory at 16 mb's for the longest time and the max memory stick limit of 128mb. I abandoned my clie and switched to the Tungsten C, after Sony annouced the TG, then the NX/NZ series, and finally the UX series with still 16 mb's of internal memory.


RE: Told you so!
mikecane @ 6/2/2004 5:21:43 PM #
I re-read your Predictions, Foo. You nailed it. Congratulations. Now go away. (Hah!)

RE: Told you so!
Foo Fighter @ 6/3/2004 12:43:15 AM #
Yes, those chicken bones never fail me.

Contributing Editor,

Dumb move for Sony

NDPTAL85 @ 6/1/2004 9:45:39 AM #
If Sony had decided to make Palm OS Smartphones instead of Symbian based Smartphones then they would own the Smartphone market by now. Dammit why are they doing this?

I know their Symbian phones have been successful but not nearly as successful as Palm Smartphones with a Sony touch could have been.

RE: Dumb move for Sony
mikeemike @ 6/1/2004 9:51:25 AM #
Since Sony owns shares in Symbian through its shared ownership of SonyEricsson, it makes more sense for it to push Symbian OS much more than Palm. As a shareholder it benifits much more from Symbian being strong than it does from PalmSource doing well.

The P900 has sold very well and its a great phone. If Sony continues knocking out phones like this the PDA market willdie a death very soon.

RE: Dumb move for Sony
SeldomVisitor @ 6/1/2004 10:24:50 AM #
W.r.t. Symbian smartphones not being successful w.r.t. PalmOS smartphones - who says!?

From EVERYTHING I've read Symbian phones run circles around PalmOS phones as far as sales are concerned.

RE: Dumb move for Sony
elo @ 6/1/2004 1:59:11 PM #
It would be very hard to call this a bad move without knowing more. At the very least, it frees Sony from having to license the PalmOS. Given that Sony has more than one other OS possibility for future devices, that may not be a big loss from Sony's point of view. Also, the PDA market in general looks much weaker than it did a couple of years ago, at least for general consumer use. The trend seems to show people using their phone more and more for traditional PDA functions. Most people also have an iPod or other music player and many have at least one device that can take a picture. Against all that, the Clie was seeming a bit redundant.

Also, it's hard to know where Sony was really going with this thing. Everybody loved the T series from a couple of years ago and thought it would be quickly followed by something just like it but with virtual graffiti. Instead, they followed with some unusual devices that didn't seem to be targeted at anyone in particular.

I think this does spell doom for PalmSource, but not for another year or so. And who cares, really?


RE: Dumb move for Sony
Sweetlu @ 6/1/2004 5:20:53 PM #
How is this a dumb move for Sony?

They see a trend where the PDA share is shrinking and smartphones are growing. That is why they are going to concentrate on the sony ericcson partbership.

PalmOne beat them to the punch. They saw the trend early and bought handspring before they became bigger than P1.

As for Palmsource, it is time they make a simple smartphone OS so it could compete with simbian and the others or it will be a painful slow death.

Casio B.O.S.S --> M100 --> Vx --> M505 --> T3 -->?

Yankees, Steinbrenner,...... I will never turn to the dark side.

I was looking forward to the next UX model...

jamesgood72 @ 6/1/2004 9:49:38 AM #
I wonder if we'll see a development in the UX line for the Japanese market. Damn, they were so close to the perfect PDA with the UX50...


RE: I was looking forward to the next UX model...
markgm @ 6/1/2004 9:58:32 AM #
I too was looking forward to the next Clie. I guess the writing was on the wall. Any electronics store I walk into doesn't have even the latest Clie's on display. (Though the Best Buy PDA section looks sad in general.) As much as I like cheap devices, I hope someone steps up to release a high end device to replace my NX80 when the time comes.

RE: I was looking forward to the next UX model...
SeldomVisitor @ 6/1/2004 10:26:51 AM #
The Best Buy PDA section "looking sad" is undoubtedly an example of the reason SONY is dropping PDAs.

RE: I was looking forward to the next UX model...
Hotoru @ 6/2/2004 12:03:54 AM #
Best Buy is dropping PDAs from their product list.
My local on is removing them from the shelves. Though I could see them keeping the cheap Zires as a off the shelf item.


RE: I was looking forward to the next UX model...
SeldomVisitor @ 6/2/2004 6:22:59 AM #
Indeed - there are those who are confusing the "sectors" of PDAs and phones and making unsupported statements about, for example, PalmOne "beating" Sony in the PDA sector when they're using phone sector information to support their incorrect statement!

The PDA sector hasn't just been shrinking, it's been shrinking DRAMATICALLY - PalmOne itself said they had something like a 20+% dropoff from one year to the next:


Sony is abandoning that sector NOT because they were "beat" by anyone but because the sector itself is dead. I wonder how the last buggy whip manufacturer discussed their performance:

== "Yes, we had a dramatic increase in marketshare
== when OldHoss Buggy Accessories decided to concentrate
== on that Ford contraption."


RE: I was looking forward to the next UX model... IMPORT IT!
;-(( @ 6/3/2004 2:15:00 AM #
The new UX will likely be released in Japan in late August or early September. No doubt specialty importers like will be willing to profit from those desperate enough to be fleeced by their 100% markup. (e.g. Want a TH-55 with Bluetooth? Got $550? Expect to pay around $850 for the CLIE UX-100.

Unfortunately, the revised screen and memory upgrade make the new UX pretty much perfect. I still use my Betamax for taping, so I'll have no problem using abandonware CLIEs for a long time to come. Sorry Palm, but the shoddy construction of every new Palm since the Vx means I could never buy a Palm-branded PDA again... I borrowed a Tungsten E a few weeks ago - I couldn't get over how cheap it looked and felt.

Those who can afford quality will be willing to pay for J-Spec CLIES.

Freedom of speech, baby. Gotta love it,

RE: I was looking forward to the next UX model...
mikecane @ 6/3/2004 9:06:05 AM #
>>>I still use my Betamax for taping

Only because the institution you are in could never afford VHS. Your meds task their budget.

Lithium time, Mike
;-o @ 6/3/2004 9:14:00 AM #
Your meds task their budget.

Remember, Mike: God loves you. Even you are special in His eyes.

By the way, read your previous post again and ask yourself if that's really what you meant to say. Read it aloud. Mouthe the words.

It must be painful having to look at yourself every morning in the mirror, Mikey. When you cut, does the pain make you feel better? Why just stop at the hesitation cuts, Mikey? Take it to the next level.

You like me! You really like me!

mikecane @ 6/3/2004 9:44:17 AM #
Poor Sphincterface. Good thing your mother (whoever she was) couldn't find that coat hanger in time. We would have been spared your hysterical rantings every time you escape from the grounds. You know all about psychomeds. They've tried every one on you. You're a tough nut to crack.

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