Psion gained a step forward in its battle to put its software at the heart of more devices when Philips announced a module that provides Internet and messaging 'smart phone' options for users of the Ilium GSM mobile phone. Called Synergy, the product is slated to be available in the April-June quarter this year.
Based on Psion Software's EPOC scalable operating system that powers the firm's latest Series 5 handheld, the Synergy clip-on attachment gives users access to functions including Net browsing, send/receive e-mail, fax and 'easier' SMS. Synergy also provides PIM functions such as diary, to-do, clock and calculator. Data is entered and searched using a stylus and 640 x 200 backlit touchscreen, and can be swapped with PCs via infra-red or parallel port connections using software provided, Psion said.
In theory at least, the 370g (with battery) Synergy provides a more useful concept than the Nokia 9000 Communicator which provides similar functionality but in a heavyweight all-in-one brick format.
One business user of the Nokia 9000 Communicator said there could be potential for the Synergy device.
"I like the idea [of smart phones] but the implementation of the Nokia is not right yet," said Vince Holton, managing director of Click IT Limited, a UK hi-tech public relations agency. "If it's anything like the Nokia, a lot of business people won't use it because it's just too bulky. I'm sure the next generation of smart phones is going to be much closer than what Nokia achieved first time out."
Jorgen Bredesen, general manager for Europe at Philips Consumer Communications, said:
"Ever since wireless technology was first introduced, people have been seeking ways to provide full communications functionality - including comprehensive voice, data and messaging - over the airwaves. With Ilium Synergy we believe we've achieved it."
Psion quoted market estimates of 29 million units in 2001 for smart phones and communicators.