Psion, IBM tie up on handheld apps

Computer World –

LONDON -- A sub-notebook device will allow users of IBM applications to connect with corporate servers to exchange information while working remotely.

The device will be produced by Psion Enterprise Computing Ltd., a newly formed division of Psion PLC in the U.K. 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, IBM and Psion said.

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

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

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

The device, although larger than Psion's trademark handheld Series V, isn't just a larger version of the personal digital assistant, said Steve Pang, a spokesman at Psion. The device, measuring roughly 4 inches by 6 inches, won't include Psion's personal information management tools that come loaded on other Psion handheld devices, Pang said. It will include a color screen and have a slightly larger keyboard than the Series V, he said.

The device will incorporate the EPOC operating system as well as a Java virtual machine (JVM), Pang added. Psion has been adding the JVM to its handheld devices recently 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.

For users to send and receive information, they must connect to either a landline or wireless network using a software modem, a hardware modem or a PC card, Pang said.

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

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