Psion Forms New Company to License its World Leading PDA Platform

Psion, with 33% of the world-wide palmtop market, create standard for solid state computing.

[Source: Forrester Research, Boston, 1995]

July 15, 1996

Psion PLC, the world leader in palmtop computers, today announced the formation of a new company, Psion Software PLC, to license its operating systems and applications software. The move will encourage and assist other companies in bringing products to market such as palmtops, sub-notebooks, Smartphones, intelligent terminals and mobile web-browsers using Psion's previously proprietary technologies.

Operating systems and applications (collectively known as platforms) designed for solid-state (i.e. ROM-based) hand-held computers are fundamentally different from PC platforms. They have to start immediately, be power and memory efficient and never lose the user's data. They have to be responsive and bug-free and offer deep functionality in small code size whilst appearing intuitive to novice and power users alike. With thirteen years experience developing such expertise and with over two million units sold, Psion is making its platforms available to licensees.

David Potter, Chairman of Psion PLC said "One of our strategies is to establish our platform as an open standard. We are already recognised as the world leader in the palmtop computer market and this sector will inevitably attract more players as communication and computing technologies continue to converge. We do not expect significant licensing revenue before 1998. Our licensing strategy will allow us to participate in emerging markets without defocusing our existing business."

Psion Software PLC will market its 16-bit EPOC16 platform (which lies at the heart of the Psion Series 3 products) and its 32-bit EPOC32 platform which is being developed for future high performance products such as high-end palmtops, Communicators and Smartphones.

Psion Software PLC CEO Colly Myers said "Our skills are unique in the industry because, with thirteen years of experience, we have learned how to design world class products with genuine depth of utility. EPOC platforms provide the most effective balance of performance, cost and size. Its integrated power management sustains Platforms for months on two AA cells. EPOC delivers essential robustness and data-integrity which are of paramount importance to the successful design and implementation of a personal ROM-based computer."

Myers predicts that the uptake of EPOC16 licenses will be for compact, hand-held devices, such as high-end phones with integrated organiser functionality and other ROM-based devices which can benefit from powerful and intuitive User Interfaces.

Psion Software will continue to design and develop for Psion's own product range which will benefit from the open platform. The company already has thousands of developers whose applications will be able to run on systems from other vendors.

Over the past eighteen months, the company has formed strategic partnerships with Advanced RISC Machines (ARM), Cirrus Logic and Digital Semiconductor. Mark Gretton, Psion Software Technology Director explains "We have been building an alliance of partner companies to provide ROM-based computing solutions for a wide range of products. With ARM we specified a highly integrated 'PDA on a chip', the CL-PS7110 (ARM7100) targeting high-end palmtops. With mass market volumes in mind, we partnered Cirrus Logic to make the device available to any palmtop manufacturer. If licensees need supercomputing power in a palmtop, we are working with Digital on a StrongARM design."

Robin Saxby, CEO and Managing Director of ARM, said he was delighted to be working with Psion. "I am a long-time admirer of Psion and I believe their licensing strategy gives them a real opportunity to become a standard platform in one of the most exciting sectors of the computing industry. Psion is another example of a market leader porting to ARM and thus further establishes our architecture as the standard in the markets where computing, communication and consumer electronics converge."

Cirrus Logic's Ashis Khan, Marketing Manager Personal Systems commented "There is excellent synergy between Psion and Cirrus. Cirrus has the experience of supplying highly integrated ultra low power silicon for personal computing and mobile communications applications. We offer a complete solution around CL-PS7110 that includes the chip, evaluation board, its design database and EPOC32 SDK. Psion is one of the few companies in the world that has the experience of designing and selling volume PDAs and that is why the CL-PS7110 running EPOC32 is a very attractive package for OEMs that want to build mass market mobile computing or communication platforms."

Psion Software will also have EPOC32 based StrongARM solutions to meet the needs of high performance palmtops. "StrongARM enables speech as a user interface, the implementation of high-speed modems in software and significant improvement in response time while accessing either local or remote data. Digital's unique low-voltage process technology sustains the industry's leading performance and price/performance, but running on AA-battery power", said Tom Schild, StrongARM Product Marketing Manager for Digital Semiconductor. "We are also working with Psion on future platforms enabling the next generation of communication-centric devices," added Schild.

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About Psion PLC

Psion PLC is an international computer group committed to developing, engineering, manufacturing, marketing and distributing portable computers, data communications and software to increase personal and corporate productivity. Providing its customer base with features and functionality to satisfy their business requirements, Psion has pioneered new markets in handheld computers. Psion began shipping the first digital organizer Organiser II in 1984 and it paved the way for others to enter the PDA marketplace. To date, Psion has shipped over 2 million palmtop computers world-wide. For further information on Psion contact Simon East at +44-207-208 1800. Psion PLC's web site can be found at

EPOC, EPOC16 and EPOC32 are trademarks of Psion Software PLC. ARM, StrongARM and the ARM Powered Logo are trademarks of Advanced RISC Machines Ltd.