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March 11, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:14pm


By CBR Staff Writer

1997 is going to be a year of transition for UK-based handheld computer company Psion Plc as it is set not only to introduce the first fruits of its five-year investment in 32-bit technologies, but also sign some major technology licensing agreements. The company will be entering this transition from a reasonably strong base, with 1996 figures exceeding expectations, it said. Psion saw pre-tax profits up 38% at 16m pounds on revenue that rose 37% to 124.2m pounds. However, the City seemed to have other ideas, with share prices falling 24 pence to 408 pence in afternoon trading. The group has now implemented a restructuring program creating four business divisions. Psion Computers for the palmtops, Psion Industrial for the industrial terminal range, Psion Dacom for communications and peripherals, and Psion Software for licensing the operating systems. The company, which is still selling devices running its 8-bit technology developed in the early 1980s, namely the Organizer II, has seen very impressive take-up of its latest 16-bit offerings, it said, such as the latest 3c palmtop computer with 1Mb or 2Mb internal memory and the lower end Siena pocket-sized organizer launched last year (CI No 2,993). This year will see the launch of at least two products based on its 32-bit EPOC32 operating system, said chairman David Potter. Although he would not be drawn into elaborating on the products, it looks fairly likely one will be a mobile phone-cum-organizer of some sort. Potter also said the company would be signing some major third party licenses this year for the 32-bit technology, but again would not name any names. He said licensing revenue was not likely to be seen until next year, but when it came it would be significant. Potter was also unworried by Microsoft Corp’s Windows CE, the company’s cut- down operating system for handheld computers. He naturally claims that not only is Psion’s technology superior, but he believes Microsoft will offer only a takeaway desktop rather than all the other devices Psion is alluding to, without being specific. Potter also said he believed Windows CE would help expand the market, and that Psion was extremely well placed to increase its share. The company will pay a final dividend of 1.6 pence, making a total for the year up 34.7% at 2.25 pence.

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