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Psion, Motorola plan mobile devices for Net

Europe's leading palm computer maker teams with Motorola to develop wireless access devices that will allow users to connect to the Internet.

Psion, Europe's leading palm computer maker, today said it has teamed with Motorola to develop wireless access devices that would allow users to connect to the Internet.

Schaumburg, Ill.-based Motorola, the giant maker of cellular phones, and London-based Psion are designing the devices to work with cellular networks in Europe, North America and Asia, and hope to have a product ready during the first half of 2001.

The jointly developed products will share a Symbian technology format, and carry the logos of both companies. Symbian--a joint venture among Psion, Motorola, Sweden's Ericsson, Finland's Nokia and Japan's Matsushita--is being developed to build products around Psion's EPOC operating system for the next generation of smart cell phones and handheld computers with Internet access.

The alliance between Psion and Motorola is but one of many relationships forged between the world's leading cellular companies and makers of handheld devices as they jockey to position themselves in the hotly anticipated converged world where the Internet is accessed over mobile devices.

Late last year, Microsoft and Swedish telecommunications firm Ericsson formed a joint venture to develop products that provide fast access to the Internet from any device. The software giant, pushing its Windows CE operating system for palm devices, has cut deals with several other telecommunications firms around the world, including British Telecommunications and Japan's No.1 cellular company, NTT DoCoMo.

Nokia, the giant maker of cellular phones, and Palm Computing, Microsoft's bitter rival in the handheld device operating systems market, have also teamed to create devices that combine wireless voice and data access with mobile information management and handheld organizer capabilities.

While the technology is currently still being developed, its adoption is expected to occur at a rapid clip. Research firm Jupiter Communications has forecast that users of browser-enabled mobile phones will soar from 1.1 million this year to 79.4 million in 2003, while Internet-capable PDA (personal digital assistant) users are expected to increase from 5.2 million to 12 million in the same period.

Today's alliance between Psion and Motorola is a non-exclusive agreement.

"This agreement brings together Psion's mobile computing experience and expertise with Motorola's industry-leading cellular technology and global marketing muscle to develop world-beating products based on Symbian technology," David Levin, Psion's chief executive officer, said in a statement.