View Full Version : Rumours of Nokia buying Psion emerge

09-11-2003, 11:13 PM
Rumours of Nokia plans to buy Psion have been published in various ( sources ( following a newspaper report this Sunday. This has obvious implications for ownership of Symbian. Nokia and Psion have a combined shareholding of 63.3%. The news should be treated with caution at this stage, with no confirmatory evidence from Nokia or Psion and some analysis suggesting such a move is unlikely.

The Reuters report says that:

"There are clear signs coming out of Nokia that it is planning to make a move on Psion," the newspaper quoted an unnamed industry source with knowledge of Nokia's plans as saying.

While Nokia control of Symbian might be in Nokia's short term interests, the longer term picture is less clear. Nokia clearly recognise Symbian's strength comes from its wide traditional mobile industry support. Symbian by uniting the current market incumbents (Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Siemens, Samsung and others) behind a single body strengthens the opposition to Microsoft. Clearly the current incumbents have no desire to see Microsoft as a key player in their sector, and have over the last 5 years indicated on repeated occasions and unwillingness to wholly ally with Microsoft.

Nokia control of Symbian could reduce the willingess of other Symbian stakeholders and liscensees to use and promote the operating system. In this siutuation Nokia would be gambling that they, on their own, could take on Microsoft in the connected mobile device space using Symbian as their software system. Clearly having other mobile phone manufacturers allied with them would strengthen their case, while not having the same companies on side and indeed being against them would weaken it.

For Nokia it is a questions of whether the benefits of controlling Symbian outweigh any potnetial reduction in support.

It is possible to argue that Nokia control of Symbian could stifle development and innovation. One of Symbian's strengths has been its ability to move quickly, while continuing the development and innovation cycle. Whether the dynamism of the company could be maintained is open to debate.

The source indicated really doesn't tell us anything we don't already know. Clearly Nokia's obvious takeover target should it want to control Symbian is Psion. It is likely that Nokia have considered this as a strategic option, and if the source is genuine this would the likely background.

More likely the source is someone outside Nokia and Psion who clealry would not be privy to internal debates and may be guessing at strategy. Indeed such rumours would please some of Nokia's rivals as it destabalises its relationship with the other Symbian shareholders.

Other analsysts have suggested that such rumours, and increasingly commentary from industry source talking about Nokia control of Symbian, are intended to destabalise relationships between the liscensee's and various stakeholders.

Ultimately we can only await further developments, and although I fully expect this story to gain noise over the next few days, it may utimately prove to be unfounded.

Current ownership of Symbian:

Nokia 32.2%
Psion 31.1%
Ericsson 17.5%
Panasonic 7.9%
Samsung 5%
Siemens 4.8%
Sony Ericsson 1.5%

10-11-2003, 04:35 AM
We do not know yet, but it could, as you say, emanate from the Microsoft camp. It would benefit Microsoft if people believe that Symbian OS is entirely controlled by Nokia.

I would not be surprised, however, if Nokia are seriously after Psion's Teklogix subsidiary. After its corporate restructuring exercise in September-October, Nokia is putting increasing emphasis on enterprise mobile computing, an area where they have not been particularly successful before. (Now I have to resist a strong temptation to add another layer of speculations what this could mean in the future...).