Representatives from electronics manufacturer Tapwave have announced that the company is to transition away from making branded products and will now create them only for other OEM companies, apparently marking a change in direction for the company’s Palm OS-based Zodiac PDA/gaming platform.
According to a Tapwave spokesperson talking to Zodiac-focused website Tapland.com, the company "is starting to transition from offering Tapwave branded retail products to developing new co-branded products for OEM partners."
The various models of Zodiac consoles have already been reduced in price to $270 for the 32MB version and $350 for the 128MB version, with some stores discounting them even further.
Tapwave previously announced that there were no plans to release an updated Zodiac model this year, which would have been unusual for any similar product in the very fluid PDA market. At the same time, it was becoming clear that the device's gaming features were being sidelined in favor of promoting the Zodiac as an all-round media device.
The Zodiac went on retail sale in the U.S. in June of 2004, after previously having been available only online. At this stage it was priced at $299 for the 32MB version and $399 for the 128MB version. The system had some low-level support from U.S. publishers, largely with licensed titles produced by Tapwave, such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4
, Doom II
and Spy Hunter
The device also had a limited launch in Europe, but was only sold in select stores in the UK, and proved to have a very low visibility on the High Street.
If, as seems to be the case, the Zodiac has essentially been discontinued under its own name, then it shows the strength of competition in a market that now includes the powerfully-backed Sony PSP and Nintendo DS. With such strong players, many analysts have predicted that Tapwave, Gizmondo and Nokia's N-Gage would prove to be early casualties, although the latter two are still forging ahead.