Psion set to broaden its PDA offerings

Rohit Khare (
Tue, 3 Sep 96 13:55:03 -0400

Psion set to broaden its PDA offerings

By Carolyn A. April
InfoWorld Electric

Posted at 11:01 AM PT, Aug 30, 1996
Aiming to boost its profile in the U.S. hand-held market, Psion Inc. the week
of Sept. 3 will unveil two new product lines: a low-end personal organizer
called Sienna and the Series 3c personal digital assistant, sources said.

The Series 3c will mark the first significant upgrade to the Concord,
Mass.-based firm's Series 3a line of PDAs debuted in 1993, sources said. Among
other new features, the Series 3c will boast beefed up communications
capabilities and more memory. Both the 3c and Sienna will ship immediately and
be sold through retail channels, including CompUSA, sources said.

Psion's existing Series 3a line has fared well in the European market,
particularly in London where parent company Psion Ltd. is located. But in the
United States, the product has lagged behind sales of market leaders Sharp
Electronics Corp.'s Zaurus and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s 200LX PDAs, industry
observers said.

"This time around, Psion is really trying to begin a big marketing boost to
build brand-recognition here," said Philip Redman, an industry analyst with
the Yankee Group in Boston.

Psion's move comes at a time when the PDA market is expected to heat up --
particularly with the expected November arrival of Microsoft's Windows-based
PDA OS, code-named Pegasus. Six hardware vendors have lined up to build
devices based on the software giant's foray into hand-helds including Casio
Inc., Compaq Computer Corp., HP, and Packard Bell NEC, sources said.

Psion's software division announced several weeks ago that it would begin
licensing the proprietary operating system that forms the foundation of their
PDA line. And one industry source said that IBM -- which is not collaborating
with Microsoft on Pegasus -- is planning to incorporate Psion's small
footprint EPOC OS in a forthcoming PDA. Big Blue officials declined to

The new Series 3c will come in two models that carry the same form factor as
their predecessor, weigh under a pound, and sport keyboard input. Among new
features, the PDAs will come with 2MB of RAM, a backlit LCD display and a
14.4Kbps modem.

Running on a RISC-based processor, the Series 3c is bundled with software
that allows data synchronization with notebooks or desktop PCs and access to
e-mail programs Lotus cc.Mail and Microsoft Mail. It will be priced starting
at $599. More Internet access capabilities are expected to be added by the
latter part of the fall, sources said. For $79, Series 3c users can buy a PC
card adapter for the PDA.

The Sienna will come in a 512KB and 1MB models, and include basic PIM
features. Pricing was unavailable. Psion declined comment on unannounced

Psion is at _