Rumors have been floating around about the premature demise of the Sony U-50/70 Ultra-portable computers. I have confirmation from a contact in Japan that Sony is indeed discontinuing the U-50 due to low sales in Japan (compared to the U-70). The U-50 is the lower end of the two models sporting only a Celeron processor and 256 MB of memory. The U-70 is configured as well as current laptop models with the Pentium M processor and 512 MB of memory and apparently has not been discontinued. Sales of the U-70 are reportedly very good in Japan so it wouldn’t make sense for Sony to cancel them.
Of course, until official word comes down from Sony this is all just speculation and rumors so time will tell. It is being whispered in Japan that Sony may unroll the next generation U at a trade show in three weeks. These rumors indicate Sony may be going for the Dothan processor in the next U which is super powerful and very battery friendly. But as always with Sony, who really knows? :)The slow sales of the U-50 in Japan verifies something that I’ve been saying for a while. Customers paying laptop prices for UPCs will demand high performance from the devices. I believe that the OQO will have a big problem given the hardware specs if it costs over $1000. I can’t see people paying big bucks for an anemic computer. You have to remember that these UPCs are full Windows XP computers so the first thing you have to do when you get one is load it up. Unlike PDAs that are so far immune to outside attack UPCs have to be as fully protected as your desktop or laptop computer. Maybe even more so since they are so portable and easily stolen. That means as soon as you get one you not only have to load up your productivity software but all of your security utilities too. Anti-virus software, spy-ware software, encryption software- as any Windows XP user knows these take a big overhead hit on your computer and UPCs are particulary vulnerable to this hit if they have anemic hardware. Load your standard software arsenal on an under-powered UPC and start experiencing performance hits and you will not be happy if you just paid $2000 for it. To me the magic number is around $1000 for consumers to put up with performance problems. It will be interesting to see at what price the OQO finally debuts as the only comments about price so far have been “under $2000″.