Toshiba to enter handheld digital organiser market in summer

Toshiba Corp., the world’s biggest maker of notebook computers, said Monday it planned to go up against dominant players Palm and Sharp in the fast-growing market for handheld digital organisers.

Toshiba spokeswoman Yumiko Kokubu said the Japanese giant would launch its own personal digital assistant (PDA) in the summer, after first announcing its interest in joining the market last month.

“We hope to launch PDAs this summer in the US and Japan, and hopefully in Europe,” she said.

“But the details such as sales targets, the precise sales regions or the nature of the product itself have not been decided yet. Once we decide what kind of PDA we will launch, we will announce that,” she said.

The spokeswoman declined to confirm whether the Toshiba PDA would adopt the Bluetooth mobile communications format and Microsoft Corp.’s Pocket PC operating system, as reported by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun.

“We are still testing the device,” she said.

Bluetooth, developed by Swedish telecoms company Ericsson, is a new technological standard for short-range communications between a host of electronic devices such as computers and mobile telephones.

Toshiba, through its notebook computer expertise, aims to take advantage of its know-how in manufacturing small and lightweight gadgets in producing the PDAs, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said.

“Output destined for the Japanese, US and European markets is estimated at several hundred thousand units,” the business daily said, adding Toshiba would enlist its German ally Siemens AG in European marketing.

Japanese shipments of PDAs are predicted to more than triple from the current level to four million units by 2004, the report said.

Sony Corp. launched its first PDA in Japan in September, based on the operating system of international market leader Palm Computing Inc.

In Japan however, the US company ranks behind homegrown handheld devices marketed by Sharp Corp. and Casio Computer Co. Ltd.


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