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Wednesday, 26 April, 2000, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
Psion rises on Sony deal
Psion Organiser
Sony's decision is a coup for Psion
Handheld computer maker Psion's shares rose sharply on Wednesday after Sony announced plans to use the Epoc operating system.

The deal was between Sony and Symbian, the consortium in which Psion is the largest shareholder and that includes mobile phone giants Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia and Matsushita.

Symbian is developing Psion's Epoc operating system for use in the next generation of mobile phones and handheld devices which will allow internet access.

The announcement is a significant coup for the Symbian consortium in its efforts to make Epoc the industry standard.

Psion shares jumped nearly 17% to 3300p on the news before closing at 3244p, well up from Tuesday's close of 2823p.

Epoc was originally devised by Psion for its handheld computers and is now in a battle with Microsoft's Pocket PC software to power next generation portable devices.

In a separate announcement Sony said it would use Texas Instrument's Omap technology in its new generation devices.

Palm toys with Symbian

Katsumi Ihara, Sony's personal computer president, said: "We believe that TI's Omap and Symbian technology are indispensable components to make these Sony devices a reality."

Palm, the world's largest manufacturer of handheld computers, uses a third software system of its own, using 16 bits rather than Psion's more powerful 32. Its software was already licensed to Sony.

Palm is now toying with using the Symbian operating system which is generally seen as being the superior of the two.

The Sony deal will raise Symbian's profile in the US, where many analysts see the portable device battle as a fight between Palm and Microsoft.

Despite their rise on Wednesday, Psion's shares remain way below the 7500p they reached at the peak of the tech driven stock market.

"This signing further increases the value of Symbian," said Nomura analyst Nainish Bapna, pointing out that as leader of the software platform alliance, with a 28% stake, Psion stood to gain most.

Microsoft's own version

In return for Sony using the Symbian technology, the Symbian consortium has licenced for use Sony's 'Memory Stick' technology, which the Japanese company is attempting to establish as the standard for memory storage for mobile devices.

This was seen as enabling all Symbian powered devices to share memory with other devices such as digital cameras.

A week ago Microsoft launched its PocketPC, the third incarnation of its Windows CE operating system, a version of its Windows software for PCs pared down for smaller devices.

Sony said the Symbian deal did not mean that it had turned its back on Palm - saying that the Epoc technology was intended for mobile phones, while the Palm link was for handheld computers.

Symbian chief executive Colly Myers told a press conference that there were a number of other Epoc licence deals in the pipeline.

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See also:

01 Feb 00 | Business
The Psion factor
02 Mar 00 | Business
Psion opts for mobile web
19 Apr 00 | Business
Microsoft's third try to go mobile
14 Oct 99 | The Company File
Psion and Palm establish links
13 Sep 99 | The Company File
Sony's new weapon: Playstation 2
09 Mar 99 | The Company File
Sony cuts back to move forward
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