Wednesday, April 02, 2008

How The Mighty Have Fallen

This could in theory be about the ongoing Moto fiasco, but I think I've said enough about that.

However I just spotted the latest Sharp GSM effort - the GX18. It's a lot like 2004's GX15 except bigger and uglier - in fact very close in specs to 2002's GX10 apart from the camera res (QCIF vs VGA is not a fight worth watching - they're both useless). Looking at it you'd never know that the handset market has become increasingly fashion concious and specs have moved on from 128x160 screens and VGA cameras.

Why does this matter? Well it doesn't any more, really, because Japanese manufacturers have all spectacularly failed to do anything outside Japan and are all finishing their retreats from their GSM beachheads right now (except Sony of course, who had to merge with a leading European vendor to hang in the top 5).

This wasn't always the case. Sharp started to make serious inroads into Europe when they struck up a deal to make Vodafone branded handsets - the GX10 was reasonably good at the time but the GX20 brought us our first mainstream QVGA screens - I remember being blown away seeing them the first time - and they were constantly pushing the envelope on camera quality to bury the waste-of-space VGA variety.

So it's a shame to see that their European swansong appears to be a return to the spec of their first success here. However, survival of the fittest is helping curb the fragmentation of mobile platforms somewhat so it's not all bad - lets hope LG goes next.