updated 11:25 am EDT, Thu September 15, 2011
Sharp Galapagos down to just seven-inch model
Sharp on Thursday checked its ambitions in the tablet arena with word that it was dropping its original two Galapagos tablets. Both the 5.5-inch and 10.8-inch models will exit the market at the end of September, about 10 months after they went on sale. Only the seven-inch A01SH launched last month will stay on sale.
The official reasons for the reduced line are indefinite and claim only that the readers "fulfilled the purposes" of color e-readers and general Internet use they had been created to serve. Both were using older processors and earlier versions of Android than the 3.2-native A01SH, but these could have been addressed with updated hardware.
Sales of the newer, remaining tablet are faring "quite well," a Sharp representative said.
The partial scaling back has already been attributed by Japanese media to the iPad. While Apple already has a lead in tablets in virtually every country it supports, Japan has both been one of Apple's hotter growth areas and has given Apple unique advantages. SoftBank heavily discounts 3G iPads for contract buyers to where Sharp's deal with E-Mobile for the A01SH and NTT DoCoMo's new 4G tablets won't have a price advantage.
Like Samsung or RIM, Sharp signaled its intentions to make a tablet in late 2010 as a reaction to Apple cornering the market early but with a rushed software release not fully optimized for tablets. The A01SH's use of Android 3.2 makes it Sharp's first truly tablet-native foundation, albeit one that has lost share to Apple in the recent past.