Psion shows off Bluetooth smarts

Company proving its expertise goes beyond handhelds, smartphones

Psion isn't just Symbian.

That was the upshot of Friday's announcement that Psion (quote: PON), best known for its handheld computers, will supply wireless Bluetooth technology to PC giant Dell Computer.

After allowing the spotlight to dwell almost exclusively on Symbian, the company's smartphone spinoff, Psion is now ready to showcase its other plans, said experts. And one of the most potentially lucrative markets for Psion is supplying wireless technology to enterprises and consumers.

Psion Dacom, the group's data communications division, gets its bread and butter from such wireless devices as GSM modems for laptop PCs. Friday's deal, however, puts the spotlight on cutting-edge Bluetooth technology, which is designed to allow wireless communication between computers and the increasing number of portable consumer and peripheral devices. The division, soon to change its name to Psion Connect, also has plans for a wireless technology called 802.11 and voice-over-IP technology.

"What we're saying is the skills for cellular have been there for a while, but the future is in 802.11, voice-over-IP and some GPRS products, as well as Bluetooth," said Clive Hudson, Psion Dacom's managing director. "We're in the midst of refocusing this part of the business."

In examining Psion's future, much attention has been paid to Symbian, which uses Psion's EPOC operating system, and which could pay massive royalties if it catches on as the standard platform for smartphones. Last week, Sony licensed the technology, and plans to roll out products based on it this year.

To some, however, it has seemed that Psion is putting all its eggs in one basket, say analysts: if Symbian falls through, Psion is left in the lurch.

"Psion has proved it is a cutting edge company that can deliver great products, it's not only a Symbian story," said Nainish Bapna, technical analyst with Nomura International. "The new CEO (David Levin) is positioning the company to move into other areas of the market, and this is one of the first tangible deals where you can see that happening."

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