Handheld maker Psion cuts 250 jobs

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Jul. 11, 2001. 04:09 PM

Handheld maker Psion cuts 250 jobs

Struggling consumer products division also delays Bluetooth products
LONDON (AP-CP) - Handheld computer maker Psion PLC said Wednesday it will delay the launch of consumer products using Bluetooth wireless communications technology and cut 250 jobs.

Psion said it is shifting its focus to industrial and enterprise markets as its consumer products division, Psion Digital, struggles amid a glut of handheld computers and cellular phones. Revenue at that division fell by half last year, to 36 million pounds.

Revenue at the Psion Teklogix division, created last year after the company acquired Canadian-based Teklogix International for $544 million (Canadian), grew to 63 million pounds in the first half.

That compared with 17 million pounds generated by Psion's enterprise division a year ago before it was merged with Teklogix, of Mississauga, Ont., which makes rugged computing and communications equipment used in warehouses and other industrial settings.

London-based Psion said the job cuts from its workforce of 1,300 people are part of a restructuring at Psion Digital that will cost 29 million pounds. The streamlining comes four months after the division was created in a merger of three consumer-related divisions.

''Psion is essentially saying, 'The consumer market is too fickle for us. It's just not worth the trouble,' '' said Michael Blogg, an industry analyst at ING Barings Charterhouse Securities.

In reaction to its bleak sales forecast, Psion Digital has shelved its launch of Bluetooth-enabled consumer products, previously planned for the second half of the year.

Bluetooth - a radio technology that allows notebook computers, mobile phones and other portable devices to communicate over short distances - has been billed as the next great advance in portable computing.

Psion is one of 1,300 manufacturers that have agreed to use Bluetooth as a standardized wireless device link.
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