Psion shelves Bluetooth products, cuts 250 staff

U.K. handheld computer maker Psion PLC announced on Wednesday that it is refocusing on providing digital networking and in doing so will lay off 250 employees in addition to taking a 29 million pound (US$40.9 million) one time charge.

As a result of the company's change of direction, it will move away from producing handheld computers and is not going to release its planned Bluetooth products, the company said in a statement.

The company will restructure its Psion Digital division to create products and services for wireless WANs (wide area networks) and wireless LANs aimed at the corporate and education markets, Psion said. The company will continue to develop its strategic investment in Symbian Ltd., the Psion said.

The change is due to Psion's continually poor performance in a market that is completely saturated with handheld computer devices and mobile phones, the company said.

Furthermore, the company is pulling its Bluetooth PDA (personal digital assistant) and Bluetooth connectivity products. The move is due in part to what Psion calls a slower-than-anticipated establishment of a mass market for Bluetooth, the standard for short-distance wireless communications, or wireless PANs (personal area networks).

In March, Psion announced that it had decided not to pursue a smart-phone initiative and would lay off about 100 employees from that business unit to reduce costs. The company also announced at the time that it was merging its modem, computer and information media units into a single division called Psion Digital Solutions and was taking a charge of 11 million pounds for fiscal 2001 for the restructuring. The London-based company reported that revenue was up by 5 percent in the first half of 2001 to 99 million pounds as compared to 94 million in the first half of 2000. Psion will announce its 2001 interim results on Aug. 29, the company said in the statement.

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