Psion, IBM tie up on handheld apps

Psion Enterprise Computing, a newly formed division of the UK's Psion PLC, will produce a new sub-notebook device that will allow users of IBM applications to connect with corporate servers to exchange information while working remotely.

The new NetBook will ship in October, according to an announcement by Psion and IBM yesterday. It is the first product in a coming series of Java-enabled devices aimed at large corporate users, said IBM and Psion.

The device will allow customers to use the newest version of IBM's corporate messaging application, MQSeries, that is being developed specifically for embedded devices. This will allow mobile applications to exchange data securely with the back-office systems, said the companies.

Psion will also support DB2 Everywhere, a mobile version of IBM's corporate database application, allowing mobile workers to synchronise information between the mobile device and the corporate server.

The new device will be primarily for workers such as office sales or service staff, said Roger Warner of IBM. Many of those workers are likely to be in fields -- such as insurance, banking, health care, manufacturing, and transportation and distribution -- that require high mobility and are heavily reliant on data.

The new device, although larger than Psion's trademark handheld Series V, is not just a larger version of the personal digital assistant, said Steve Pang of Psion. The device, measuring roughly 4 inches by 6 inches, will not include Psion's PIM (personal information management) tools that come loaded on other Psion handheld devices, said Pang. It will include a colour screen and has a slightly larger keyboard than the Series V, Pang said. The device incorporates the EPOC operating system as well as the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), Pang added. Psion has been adding the JVM to its handheld devices recently, in order to let them run Java applets incorporated into Web sites, and to let Java programmers modify applications specifically for the small devices, according to Psion officials.

In order for users to send and receive information, they must connect to either a land line or wireless network using either a software modem, a hardware modem or a PC card, said Pang.

For Psion, the deal with IBM is important because IBM chose a European partner for its first DB2 Everywhere deal, and because IBM chose EPOC over Windows CE, said Pang.

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