LONDON The wheels have fallen off the deal cut last year by Motorola Inc.'s Personal Communications Sector and Psion plc to develop wireless information devices that use the EPOC 32-bit operating system.
Motorola announced Monday (Jan. 29) that it has dropped plans to make wireless information devices with Psion amid rumors that Palm Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.) is seeking to buy Psion in order to gain influence over its Symbian Ltd. subsidiary, which owns and licenses the EPOC operating system.
Motorola owns 21 percent of Symbian, which also counts Ericsson, Nokia and Matsushita as shareholder.
Motorola and Psion announced that Motorola would refocus its development in this area on a multifunctional mobile smart phone that will be launched in 2002, based on a Symbian operating system platform. The big difference between the suspended and the continuing development work appears to be that Psion is no longer a development partner in the effort.
To terminate their agreement, Psion and Motorola said that Motorola will have to waive the repayment of certain monies it had paid to Psion and will make an additional payment to Psion. In addition, Psion will retain intellectual property rights contributed by Motorola to the product development effort. At the same time Motorola will continue to have access to certain rights in respect of the Halla processor, which some reports have said is based on an ARM9 CPU core created for Psion by Parthus Technologies plc (Dublin, Ireland).
A press release issued Monday by Psion said Motorola "believes the Symbian platform offers great potential for capitalizing on the opportunity in integrated devices and will continue to invest development resources to take Symbian devices to market."
Motorola is also "actively engaged in planning the future development" of Psion, the statement said.
Other divisions of Psion working with Motorola on Symbian-based products would not be affected by the contract cancellation, the two companies said. These include Psion Teklogix, which is working with Motorola on products targeted at industrial markets. Psion's contribution to the development of the first product in this joint program is a communicator product based on Symbian's Quartz platform, which is well advanced and has progressed on schedule, Psion said.
However, Psion also said that while it is continuing to develop this product it is also evaluating a range of options for its completion, "in the light of the significant additional development cost" and a planned launch in the first half of 2002.