Computergram Int'l: Opera to support PSION

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From: Sally Khudairi (
Date: Mon Apr 03 2000 - 21:22:38 PDT

So good to hear that *someone* still thinks Psion is worth it. I do, and now
have something to look forward to playing with...

Well done, Håkon!


Opera Adds Psion to Growing Handheld Base

Psion Plc has unveiled a licensing agreement with Opera Software A/S that
will see the London, UK handheld computer maker bundling the Oslo, Norway
company's full-function web browser on its Series 7 sub-notebooks. A Psion
spokesperson said the agreement's major significance lies in Opera's support
for 128-bit SSL v2.0 and 3.0 and TLS security features. He said that the
lack of such standard security support had proven an obstacle to major
corporate sales of the Series 7, but with this obstacle removed, "watch this
pace for some big deals."

The agreement is also another significant breakthrough for Opera whose
browser has struggled to make an impression on the desktop dominance of
Netscape and Microsoft, but which is enjoying growing support from other
internet device manufacturers. Psion has licensed the full implementation of
opera 4.0, complete with its support for industry standard HTML 3.2 and
JavaScript, and the critical 128-bit Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and
Transport Layer Security. Psion said that at 2.5MB, Opera 4.0 will fit
comfortably into the Series 7 range, and will also be sold separately to
users of Psion's 5mx handheld computer, which has a standard 16MB or main

Psion said Opera 4.0 will bring "full function web browsing" to the
enterprise sub-notebook for the first time, and that is expected to be a
major fillip to sales of the Series 7. Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner declined
to estimate how many extra sales the deal will generate for his company, but
it is likely to be significant, he said.

Opera has an installed base of between one and two million users, Tetzchner
said, but the mobile and compact internet device market has the potential to
accelerate sales. Be Inc and Screen Media Inc are already licensing opera as
the browser for their compact internet pads, and LM Ericsson Telefon AB, a
partner of Psion in the Symbian Ltd mobile operating system joint-venture,
has committed to putting Opera on its ENA screen phone. Another Symbian
partner, Motorola Inc, has also separately agreed to build a range of
communications devices around a Psion reference design, which now looks
likely to draw in more support for Opera.

The news may turn out to be a disappointment for Ant Ltd, the Cambridge, UK
micro-browser developer whose technology has been connected with Symbian and
with Psion's Series 5 handhelds. However, a Psion spokesman said that the
Opera agreement needn't necessarily prevent "future Ant things happening".

Ant is unlikely to come across more direct competition from Opera which,
according to Tetzcher, has no intention of moving down the device curve into
true microbrowser territory on smartphones, or even on today's PalmPilot
class devices. Although the company plans to continue to make Opera a more
modular application, and has a working version with a footprint of around
500KB, "the strategy is to offer full function web browsing" that is not
possible with micro-browsers, Tetzcher said.

As Palm-type devices become more powerful, the case for porting Opera to
PalmOS, in part or in full, may become more compelling, but at the moment,
said Tetzcher, just the screen format of the Palm makes it unsuitable for
all but the most rudimentary web browsing activities. Tetzcher said he saw
much greater potential in Symbian's "Palm killer" Quartz technology, which
the company unveiled last month at CeBIT. The superior screen resolution of
Quartz will make it a stronger candidate as a mobile web platform, he

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