Licensee rallies to Psion's defence after poor financial showing

Troubled hand-held computer vendor Psion has been vigorously defended by its leading licensee in the wake of failing City confidence.

Geofox, another UK-based hand-held computer manufacturer, was the first company to take up development on Psion's EPOC32 operating system when it was thrown open to all-comers last year. Geofox managing director George Grey, formerly of high-end notebook vendor Tadpole, believes that the game is far from up for Psion in spite of competition from the US which is starting to hurt.

In particular he disputes the assertion of many analysts that Microsoft will soon sweep the hand-held board as products ship based on its Windows CE operating system. He said "Microsoft may end up as market leader with CE, but such is the nature of the market that there is room for plenty of other hand-held products."

He says that Geofox declined to get into hardware for the CE market, choosing EPOC32 instead for the wider scope it offers developers. He said "CE was just not flexible enough. It is slow as well, therefore no good for markets where EPOC32's fast response will succeed."

He said that analysts often fail to appreciate that CE is not full Windows: "It is a completely different OS that just looks a bit similar and has been well marketed."

Grey also sought to differentiate Psion's new Series 5 and his own company's Geofox One product from 3Com's PalmPilot. He claims that the Geofox One's large screen, full keyboard and communications capabilities make it more of a portable computer than a personal organiser.

Yesterday Psion's share price fell after pre-tax profits to December 31 showed a 29 per cent drop.

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