Successful remnant of Motorola acquires successful remains of Psion
Farewell at last to the ghost of British pocket-puters
Psion Plc, once famous for producing excellent pocket computers and still selling handheld computing into vertical markets, has been bought by Motorola Solutions and will be subsumed into its new US owner.
The deal values Psion at £129m ($200m) with shareholders getting 88 pence on a share. The closing price yesterday was 60.5 though it's jumped a bit since then obviously. The deal has been unanimously recommended by the Psion board and there's no reason to think the company won't be part of Motorola Solutions very soon.
The Solutions part of Motorola, which wasn't bought by Google and is profitable, makes rugged handheld computers for shopkeepers and shop floor workers, at least one of which (the handsets, not the workers in this case) screams when dropped.
Since giving up on the consumer market Psion has been doing very similar things, with some success thanks to its carefully-nurtured community Ingenuity Working, and a decent product portfolio based around Windows CE and Embedded which remain popular in industrial and retail verticals.
Despite the obvious overlap Motorola is painting the deal as "a compelling opportunity to strengthen our industry-leading, mobile-computing portfolio" rather than a straight absorption: how that will reflect on the 830 jobs and Psion offices in London and Toronto we don't yet know.
Psion changed its logo last year, emphasising that it isn't the same company which produced the Organiser II (your correspondent's first Psion) but it hasn't been that company for a while now. Hopefully the biz handset company will continue to operate successfully from within Motorola Solutions - but the Psion we all remember disappeared a long time ago. ®
I used to work for Psion, programming the Organiser 2 (in assembler not OPL!) and I also wrote the code for blowing eproms.
I once wrote re-locatable (ie could and would be relocated in memory between opcodes) to drive a racal pager (plugged into the top of Organiser) to provide yuppies with share prices! Brilliant code, although I do say so myself, pre-dated SMS by years but Psion could never get the contract with Racal agreed.
When I needed a break from programming I used to wander into tech support and answer a 'phone. Most common question? 'How do I turn it off?'.
Personally I'd like to know who owns the patents to do with the keyboard on the series 5/5mx. That's still the best I've encountered on any handheld and would certainly like to see that style being used again.
Used an Organiser II at school and had a 5MX and a Series 7 (later converted to a 7-Book).
It's only in the last couple of years that I;ve been convinced the devices I carry round with me are actually any better than those.
Like the BBC B they were superior to other offerings but just too expensive to gain mass market traction - if the NetBook had carried on evolving (and I don't count the switch to CE as a great leap forward) we'd have some awesome devices now.