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Motorola To Buy PDA-Inventor Psion For $200 Million 144

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the end-of-an-epoc dept.
judgecorp writes "Psion, the company which made the first handheld computers in the 1980s, invented the PDA, and launched the once-unstoppable Symbian OS, is to be bought by Motorola Solutions for $200 million. Following a merger with Teklogix ten years ago, Psion has just been making ruggedised business devices, a business where Motorola Solutions also plays — note, this is Motorola Solutions, not the phones division Motorola Mobility, which Google recently bought."
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Motorola To Buy PDA-Inventor Psion For $200 Million

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  • Thank you Elop (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Incredible to think Nokia went from the top slot to almost nowhere in the space of one CEO. Not only that, but he's ENTRENCHING himself further in, replacing some of the key staff with his own choices. Elop is to Nokia what Icahn was to Yahoo, a fake saviour that actually decimates the company for their own ends.

    He's going to be difficult to unseat now, well until the company is sold to Microsoft for a pittance, but seriously, can any shareholder say he's done a good job? Nokia could be the major Android pl

    • Where are the lawsuits?

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Nokia was nowhere near the top when Elop came in. You're rewriting history to fit your agenda.

      Also, WP7 is a better OS for the vast majority of people than Android is. It's a better, smoother, more uniform and less worrisome experience. It just works.

      If you're a tinkerer then by all means use Android. If you just want a really nice phone then get one of Nokia's Lumias. The critics love em, and so do the people who have bought them.

      • I haven't tried WP7 so I cannot speak for it, but I don't share your view on Android, especially on ICS. Android is now far from the early days when it was more for geeks (which I am) than average users. I just exchanged my faulty HTC Desire (Froyo) for a Galaxy Nexus (the SIII was too expensive in my opinion), and I was amazed by how smooth and polished it is. Very simple setup for both my private GMail (including Calendar, Contacts and Drive) account and my company Exchange account. Several missing featur
        • by DrXym (126579)
          I have a WP7 phone and an Android phone. There is no denying how slick the WP7 phone looks but it's also brain damaged in numerous simple ways.

          Lack of multitasking is the most obvious one in apps but it goes through the whole system. Actions that you might easily accomplish in Android like setting a custom ring tone, or sharing a contact number from a web page to someone via text are just a pain in the ass or not possible at all. Metro's tiles look nice until you release you have exactly one list of tiles

      • by DrXym (126579)
        Nokia was definitely ailing. It spent a decade fighting itself with various divisions duplicating effort, pursuing lame duck projects, fighting amongst itself, wasting piles of money. It definitely needed to revise it's strategy in numerous ways and it would have meant job losses and most likely the death of Meego and ultimately Symbian.

        But the way they've gone about it is pure suicide. They killed Symbian when it still had life in it, burned any possibility of a migration path and went with the worst sma

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Incredible to think Nokia went from the top slot to almost nowhere in the space of one CEO.

      Story is about Motorola. Fuck all to do with Nokia. Mod parent offtopic.

      • by makomk (752139)

        Nokia actually bought the Symbian OS that they based most of their phones on prior to switching strategy to Windows Phone from Psion. It's based on the OS that Psion's old PDAs used to run.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Dude - the story is about Psion not Nokia

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Yup, Nokia will be circling the drain in 24 months. All because of a very dumb CEO, who will make at least 200 Million Euro for destroying the company with his golden parachute.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        Yup, Nokia will be circling the drain in 24 months. All because of a very dumb CEO, who will make at least 200 Million Euro for destroying the company with his golden parachute.

        I don't think the dumb one is the guy walking away with a 200 million euro golden parachute after he's destroyed the company.

  • There is a question of whether on can discover or invent something that does one does not yet know exists. For instance, Oxygen was isolated by Priestly in 1774, yet the idea that elements exists did not come for another 10 or 20 years. So while a couple people separated oxygen from the rest of the air, and did stuff with it, did they discover oxygen? I don't know.

    What i do know is my first PDA, though the term did not come into use until the 1990s, was a Tandy 100. It was a portable device that store

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Yeah, there's little point arguing whether somebody "invented the PDA." Something without a crisp definition will obviously not have a clear inventor or date of invention. Still, some are more innovative that others. I owned a Psion 3a and I don't remember anything just like it at the time.

      Later my Palm III was effective and portable, but I agree with you, the Palm V was the apogee of the PDA before the term itself waned, rather arbitrarily.

  • Slightly OT, but forgive me -- why have so many tech companies either merged or split in the past couple decades?

    I ask because it seems it's often a poor move in the long run if you think about it. Yahoo, Microsoft, and HP seem especially prone to questionable purchases an sales.

    Is it just about making a quick buck? Or is there some other benefit to all of this that I'm not seeing?

    • Maybe to acquire patents.
      • by tehcyder (746570)

        Maybe to acquire patents.

        Almost certainly, plus brand names have some value, and you'll probably pick up a few good members of staff who you can use as a reason to weed out some of the chaff from your own organisation when you replace them.

    • by kikito (971480)

      Well, it's always the same reason, isn't it? Someone wants money.

    • Psion had a really great product with the Series 3 and descendants (3a and 3c), and a pretty good one with the Series 5. The 5 had a really nice keyboard, but relatively poor battery life. Then they more or less lost the plot. The great thing about the Series 3 was that you could keep it in your pocket and use it frequently for a couple of weeks on a pair of AA batteries. The Series 5 needed charging overnight. It also involved a complete rewrite of the OS. EPOC16 was mainly written in 8086 assembly a

      • by evilviper (135110)

        The great thing about the Series 3 was that you could keep it in your pocket and use it frequently for a couple of weeks on a pair of AA batteries. The Series 5 needed charging overnight.

        I have no idea WTF you're going on about... The Psion Series 5 was advertised as running for a month on a single pair of AA batteries (light usage), and I got about a week per pair of heavy usage, for the duration of the time I was using my 5MX.

        WP lists it as ~20hrs of continuous use, which you most certainly couldn't cons

    • When they split they're becoming more focused & agile or concentrating on core competences. When they merge they're diversifying or seeking synergies.

      It's fashion, plus new CEOs trying to mark their territory.

  • They both use the Motorala trademark at the same time? How does that work out?

    And do they have an agreement not to get into each other's business? Does this change that?

    And are these the same guys that make bar code scanners?

    • They both use the Motorala trademark at the same time? How does that work out?

      I would not be surprised to see Google promptly hand the Motorola Mobility trademark back to Motorla Solutions now that the deal has closed. It is a practical certainty there was a license agreement in place during the period of the acquisition. Google has no interest in the Motorola trademark, just the patent portfolio and to a lesser extent the handset/tablet business which most likely will be spun off to an Android partner after releasing a couple of concept products.

    • Re:Two Motorolas? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rs79 (71822) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:04AM (#40366911) Homepage

      "And are these the same guys that make bar code scanners?"

      I'm not entirely certain I'm answering the right question here, but, I used to work for Teklogix, in the 70s and again in the 90s. Teklogix invented the hand held barcode scanner. I wrote the barcode decoding software. And you know that thing where in UPC and EAN you can't tell 1's from 7's ad 2's from 9's? I found a way around that. it was basically an improvement to the IBM edge to edge detection technique. I wrote it up and told my boss we should patent it and he just sat on it till it was too late to patent it. AFAIK those are the only termials that have this, it was to fix Brown Shoe's one in a million scan error problem, and did. That patent would have been valuable to motorola, certainly more valuable than not having one. So, kids, if you hand in something like this to your boss an tell him to patent it, nag him till he does.

      In the 70s Teklogix automated the postal plants and did special effects hardware for camera stuff. We had PDP-11's and Dave Conroy worked at the next desk from me and this is where he wrote his C compiler, which became DECUS C which became gcc.

      • by rs79 (71822)

        Sorry, Teklogix invented the hand held *RF* barcode scanner. (And within 10 years had 2% of the market as so often happens in Canada)

        (Although I guess we call "RF" "WiFi" these days)

      • by evilviper (135110)

        So, kids, if you hand in something like this to your boss an tell him to patent it, nag him till he does.

        Most companies give ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to their employees in return for a patent going through & being licensed. Some will give a tiny little fixed-sum for every patent, up-front. It's extremely rare that you'll get a cut of an profits, after all, just about every contract says your employer owns every single thought you have for the duration of your employment.

        The only way to do it is to keep your

    • by gbobeck (926553)

      > They both use the Motorala trademark at the same time? How does that work out?

      Long story made short: Licensing agreements. If my memory serves me correctly, Motorola Mobility owns the Motorola name and licenses it to Motorola Solutions.

      > And do they have an agreement not to get into each other's business? Does this change that? And are these the same guys that make bar code scanners?

      I would assume they have a non-compete agreement.

      Motorola Solutions owns Symbol Technologies. Symbol technologies h

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      yeah, they're the barcode scanner guys.

      the difference is that they're profitable when the phone side wasn't.

      they were cut out from the other (phone) motorola because they were profitable, funny that. google should have bought them.

    • They both use the Motorala trademark at the same time? How does that work out?

      Try asking Rolls Royce. [wikipedia.org]

    • They both use the Motorala trademark at the same time? How does that work out?

      Somewhat like the Virgin brand. Virgin Media which is a wireless network and cable company is a completely separate company from Virgin Group which has the airline, music etc businesses. I believe there are also some more entirely separate companies that also use the Virgin brand.

      For some reason it's a powerful brand name, and so the right to use it has been sold on when the companies have been spun off into separate entities.

  • Surely Google made Motorola agree to some sort of non-compete clause?
    Buying a mobile device company sounds a lot like competing, trying to rebuild the division they just sold off for massive amounts of money?
    Buying an early player in the mobile device market suggests they are after patents and prior art which protects them from other patents.

    Raises a question about whether Google got the full mobile package, or if Motorola kept some patents, IP and key staff on hand in order to stay in the mobile technology

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      ..how could google ask such a thing after this motorola had been cut out from the phone motorola ages ago now already? this motorola that did this buy was basically the profitable side of motorola business that was cut out from the loss making phone business which google bought.

    • When Motorola Mobility was spun off and sold to Google, the enterprise mobility division stayed with Motorola Solutions. And Psion has long been an enterprise mobility company. So there's nothing untoward here at all.

  • by c.r.o.c.o (123083) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @01:51AM (#40366873)

    A while ago I realized every single manufacturer of electronic devices I loved has either gone bankrupt or shut down that particular division. Here's my list in no particular order:

    - Psion 5, 5MX, 5MX Pro
    - Palm III, Vx, m500
    - Sony Clie NR70, NX70, TH55 and many others
    - Nokia E71, N900, N9

    I hold a particular soft spot for Psion though, as their devices were truly works of art. It took a decade for the same level of integration between the OS and component applications to be matched. The hardware was (almost) bulletproof, with the 5 series sliding keyboard being a truly impressive piece of engineering. However having a battery life measured in DAYS is still a pipe dream...

    I do seem to have a knack for picking dying technologies though. A friend joked that I should be given a free Windows phone, that will certainly spell its demise.

    • by kikito (971480)

      > A friend joked that I should be given a free Windows phone, that will certainly spell its demise.

      Start a kickstarter campaign.

    • by AccUser (191555)

      I found my old Psion Workabout in our loft a couple of months ago, and it was still working. I gave it to my 10 year old son along with the instruction manual, and he went off and poked around with it for a couple of days, but soon lost interest. My 6 year old daughter is currently using it as an electronic journal, having worked out herself how to use it.

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      A while ago I realized every single manufacturer of electronic devices I loved has either gone bankrupt or shut down that particular division. Here's my list in no particular order:

      - Psion 5, 5MX, 5MX Pro - Palm III, Vx, m500 - Sony Clie NR70, NX70, TH55 and many others - Nokia E71, N900, N9

      I hold a particular soft spot for Psion though, as their devices were truly works of art. It took a decade for the same level of integration between the OS and component applications to be matched. The hardware was (almost) bulletproof, with the 5 series sliding keyboard being a truly impressive piece of engineering. However having a battery life measured in DAYS is still a pipe dream...

      I do seem to have a knack for picking dying technologies though. A friend joked that I should be given a free Windows phone, that will certainly spell its demise.

      Would you like my wife's iPhone?

    • 15 year since Psion 5 was released. I imagine it's up by now. Amazed no-one bought it from Psion 10 years ago.

      Still, people want the screen on the outside now tho I see MS is back to the laptop with detachable keyboard idea.

  • as Psion Flight Simulator??

    The Speccy games you thought were good until you tried, oh, every other game

    • by Bowdie (11884)

      Yes, same Psion.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psion [wikipedia.org]

    • by Dogtanian (588974)

      as Psion Flight Simulator??

      Flight Simulation? [wikipedia.org] Yes, it is. [wikipedia.org]

      I remember playing the ZX81 version of it, and while that was undoubtedly basic- because the ZX81 itself *was* basic!- it was quite impressive given the limitations of the machine.

      The Speccy games you thought were good until you tried, oh, every other game

      What were you comparing them against? Later games? Psion's games were all (AFAIK) released very early on in the Spectrum's life [worldofspectrum.org] and look decent by the standards of that time.

      As with many home computers, the standard of games in general rose significantly as time went on. Later ones often made th

    • by wjousts (1529427)
      Fuck Flight Simulator. This is the same company that made the Horace [wikipedia.org] games!
      • by Dogtanian (588974)

        Fuck Flight Simulator. This is the same company that made the Horace [wikipedia.org] games!

        That confused me- I thought that was made by Melbourne House's development team, and indeed the Wikipedia article doesn't even mention Psion (except in relation to a Psion Series 3 port years later).

        Yet World of Spectrum had it on their list of Psion games and the game and front cover [worldofspectrum.org] mention both companies. Perhaps Psion acquired the rights and sold it through Sinclair?

        • by wjousts (1529427)
          The Wikipedia article on Psion does mention Horace (at least on the Sinclair Spectrum). Perhaps Psion just did the Spectrum port?
  • by adolf (21054)

    I've done some work with Motorola's portable business-oriented gadgets, mostly stuff that showed up with their acquisition of Symbol Technologies, and all I can say is this: Meh.

    Everything I've used from them is either poorly supported or negatively supported. Documentation that is either far too lengthy and wrong or just plain non-existent. Software that, in the best case, barely works. Firmware full of bugs. 802.11 radios that don't really like dealing with 802.11. No ability to get anything pushed

    • by rlwhite (219604)

      My company is a Motorola Solutions partner, and I'm currently developing on the ET1. Let's just say it's a clunkier version of the Xoom, 2 years later and stuck on Android 2.3.x for a price an order of magnitude higher than a consumer Android tablet. If they don't do better with the ET2, they'll be in serious trouble. We've also developed enterprise apps on the consumer Android tablets and iPads, and we're doing better business with the consumer devices.

      • by adolf (21054)

        Oh, we're full of Motorola TLAs here, too, fwiw.

        The only explanation I have for such atrocities is that the market (which is driven by software at the moment) is simply moving too fast for them to be able to keep up, even on high-margin items. By the time the thing gets even close to finished, it's already very outdated compared to everything else, and few people want to spend that sort of money on old tech when they're looking for the auspices of new tech.

        The product then bombs, never really gets finished

  • ...Is, does Motorola now hold the rights to the Horace [wikipedia.org] games?

    I wanna see a gritty 3D reboot of that series! Horace goes skiing as an FPS? A Horace MMORPG?

  • Given that the doomed partnership between motorola and psion to produce the first smartphone was often cited as the reason for the demise of psion in the consumer market.

    http://stevelitchfield.com/historyofpsion.htm [stevelitchfield.com] - see the paragraph 'the fall'

    and this is was the machine that never was...

    http://mobileopera.com/odin [mobileopera.com]

    D

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