By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Santa Monica, Calif. — Activision announced it acquired software maker Shaba Games to bolster its position in the game console market. The deal will have Shaba become a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision called Shaba's Activision. Shaba's management team and several key employees will stay on after the deal is completed. In addition, Activision said the purchase should not impact its performance for the current fiscal year. Shaba's purchase price was not made public. The Sausalito, Calif.-based Shaba has produced titles Pandemonium, Grind and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3.
Fremont, Calif. — Flash memory manufacturer Lexar Media announced last week that it had renewed and extended a licensing agreement with Samsung Electronics. Under the new agreement, Samsung will prepay fixed licensing fees owed under the prior agreement and pay additional licensing fees for expanded rights to license Lexar Media's proprietary technology. The transaction underscores how vital partnerships and licensing deals have been to the flash memory market in the midst of anemic retail margins. According to Lexar, the company projects its licensing and royalty revenues will increase by approximately $500,000 per quarter, to approximately $4.3 million beginning in the second quarter of 2002.
New York — Sharp is launching an aggressive promotional campaign to kick off its return to the U.S. PDA market this month with the release of the Zaurus SL-5500. The Linux/Java-based color unit with hideaway keyboard and 64MB of RAM began reaching retail shelves earlier this month with ads breaking from Staples, Office Depot, Fry's and The Good Guys on April 7 and Best Buy launching its advertising April 14. The promotion will include demo days in the top 15 markets and the unit will be featured in Sharp's general 'be sharp' high tech product campaign. Other Zaurus units are expected to follow within the year including a communication or cellphone based unit and one that offers notebook-type functionality, Stewart said. The new SL-5500 features a 206MHz processor, SD and CF2 slot and ships with an MP3 and MPEG-1 player at a list price of $499.
Cedar Knolls, N.J.— Despite the wide availability of broadband Internet service, U.S. consumers are sticking with their dial-up modems, according to Probe Research. Alan Mosher, Probe's senior research director, pointed to several factors leading to broadband's slow acceptance. Customers are comforted by their long-established relationship with their ISP and content with the services, like e-mail addresses and instant messaging, that are provided. He expects the current situation to remain in effect until cable modem and DSL providers start delivering services that will intrigue consumers. "Broadband Internet service is priced at two to four times the monthly rate as narrowband Internet service. This combined with the lack of a killer broadband application has had a dampening effect on broadband uptake," Mosher said.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.