Sharp scaling back on laptops to focus on tablets

The company is looking for new business models that combine hardware and e-commerce

Sharp is scaling back its laptop PC operations and will focus resources on its recently announced Galapagos tablet PC and mobile terminals, the company said Friday.

The move comes as Sharp looks to change its business model from one of just selling hardware to offering devices with companion content services.

"Our intention is to shift from just selling the product to expand to the business model of contents services business in addition to e-book product sales," said Miyuki Nakayama, a Sharp spokeswoman.

The December launch of the Galapagos tablet will be Sharp's first test of this new model. The Android-based device, which comes in 5.5-inch and 10-inch screen models, will launch with a domestic e-book and e-newspaper store that will feature about 30,000 titles. Sharp plans to later expand the content to include music, video and add other e-commerce services.

Sharp is already in talks with Verizon Wireless on a U.S. launch, but precise plans for markets outside of Japan are yet to be announced. (See the Galapagos in this YouTube video)

A report in the Friday morning edition of Japan's Nikkei business daily said Sharp was completely exiting the PC market. The company didn't confirm the report and wouldn't comment on whether it currently had any laptop PCs under development.

Its pull-back from the laptop PC market has been a gradual one. It last launched a laptop PC in October last year with the global release of Windows 7.

Martyn Williams covers Japan and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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