IDC report: Psion hits back

IDC reckons Psion is going into decline but the company hits back and not only at IDC...

British PDA manufacturer Psion has bitterly attacked research firm IDC for "getting its sums wrong" by constantly portraying the pioneer as slipping into decline.

A spokesman for Psion, who preferred not to be named, launched an attack on IDC after its latest figures showed the company losing significant market share over the next five years to rivals 3Com and Microsoft. Describing the findings as "propaganda for WinCE licensees," he slammed the figures as "ludicrous" and "misleading".

"We feel cheated. Every set of IDC figures show our market declining," he said. "The fact that Ericsson has binned CE and is using Psion's operating system and the rumours that Sharp is considering using EPOC for mobile devices render the statistics farcical." He believes the research firm is dividing the market the wrong way. "They are putting us in the same pool as WinCE and Palm and not taking account of smartphones and other devices in the statistics,"

Report author Alison McKenzie was reluctant to comment on Psion's attack. "These figures look at the operating system for one particular part of the market and do not include smartphones and vertical devices where I believe Psion is strongest," she said, conceding inclusion of these might be something "IDC can do in the future".

IDC's five year projection for handheld operating systems give the lion's share of the market in Europe to Microsoft and 3Com. While Palm and WinCE fight it out -- with around 30 percent each by 2003 -- Psion's EPOC will account for just 13.8 percent according to the research. IDC's global figures predict an even sharper decline with EPOC market share falling below one percent by next year.

McKenzie believes a substantial part of Psion's market will be eaten up by WinCE licensees which offer similar "clamshell" keyboard devices. "Psion was a pioneer and it would be a shame to see it slip behind but they are up against the international might of Microsoft and 3Com," she said.

Psion's competitors share IDC's predictions about Psion's future in the market. WinCE product manager Dilip Mistry claimed Microsoft "no longer sees Psion as a competitor in the handheld computing market" while his colleague Greg Levin claimed the EPOC operating system would never support sound and graphics. Palm product manager Jean-Baptiste Piacentino commented that Psion did not "understand the handheld market".

Psion's spokesman remained unfazed and promised new sound and graphic supporting PDAs in the future. "Of course EPOC can support stereo-quality sound and graphics and we shall be a player in that market. Expect a clever solution," he promised. Critical of the way Microsoft is attempting to dominate the handheld market, he offered an olive branch to Palm. "Palm offer the best keyboardless device and Psion, the best keyboard device. They should talk to us -- we have a common enemy," he said.

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