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Psion sales up, but palmtops down

Matsushita wants slice of Symbian pie

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Following the announcement of its first half results, Psion has said that it is in talks with Matsushita and other industry players about taking a minority equity stake in the recently formed Symbian venture. Symbian was started with Nokia and Ericsson earlier this year and Motorola is due to sign up next month. At that stage, Psion will have 31 per cent of the venture with the others holding 23 per cent each. David Potter, Psion chairman, confirmed the company was involved in talks, but was cagey about details. "There are some key players in this industry and it might be that there will be some small participation by some of those key players, " he said, mentioning Sun Microsystems and IBM. The company said its results showed it was now in a strong position for long term growth, after a difficult transitional period. The Symbian venture was major progress towards the new way of doing business, Potter said. In the first six months of 1998, the company recorded a pre-tax profit of £4.113 million on turnover of £74 million. This is up from last year when Psion reported turnover of £64 million and pretax profits of £4.051 million. Shares gained 25 pence on the back of the news. Sale of palmtops fell in the first six months of this year by 11 per cent accounting for £37 million of the company's £72 million turnover. Potter said that the launch of Series 3MX would turn this around: "The series 3 will now grow or recover and have wider sales," he said. The company would not withdraw from the US market, despite its weak position. Potter said that the strategy in the states would continue to focus on working with companies like Novell and Lotus, rather than the retail side. ®

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