Psion - Right Ideas, Right People, Wrong Time
The Series 5 pocket computer from Psion was launched 10 years ago. Accoriding to Andrew Orlowski, this was the last time anyone developed from scratch new silicon, a new operating system, middleware stack and applications. The Psion Group also made plans to develop GPS navigation systems, hard-disk based music players, digital radios, and even set-top boxes – long before these markets existed.
Today, the people who drew up those plans at Psion now underpin successful businesses in the very fields Psion rejected. In four years, Psion’s former hardware chief turned a tiny Dutch software company into the leader in SatNav systems: TomTom this year will generate $2bn in turnover, using a core of former Psion staff, and led by the computer division’s former managing director Harold Goddijn, and its star sales chief, Corinne Vigreux.
And the Psion engineer who eight years ago scouted component factories in England with a dream of making a hard disk-based MP3 player, today heads the engineering for Apple’s iPod division. The only one of these consumer electronics products to make it to market was a DAB Radio. While smaller than satnav and portable music, the digital radio market is expected to be worth $1bn next year.