The Business On... John Conoley, Chief executive, Psion

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The Independent Online

Goodness, is that still going?

Very much so. The inventor of the hand-held computer and darling of the dot.com boom – it was an FTSE 100 constituent only a decade ago – has moved out of consumer products since the technology crash (it sold its Symbian operating system to Nokia a few years back). But it has since re-invented itself as a maker of "rugged computing devices".



And what might they be?

Handheld devices for use in the workplace – in warehouses, for example. It's a lucrative niche market that has mostly kept Psion profitable, although Mr Conoley unveiled a first-half loss yesterday after the company was hit by supply chain issues.



So should Bill Gates still be aworried man?

The Microsoft founder once described Psion as the company he most worried about, but he has other concerns these days. Let's just say that he and Mr Conoley move indifferent circles.



So who is John Conoley?

A former IBM executive who has also held senior positions at the likes of E.ON, as well as at several smallcompanies whose fortunes he has turned around. Mr Conoley was appointed as Psion's boss in 2008 and has set out to restore thecompany's reputation for innovation, speeding up development and overhauling production.



Is it working?

It seems to be, the supply chain issue in the first half notwithstanding (it relates to an old product and seems to have been a one-off). The company is smaller, having been through a tough restructuring, but seems to be punching above its weight – witness a large deal with BT Global Services last year, for example.



So Psion might make it back to the big time?

Well, in the absence of a consumer products division, it's hard to see it becoming a household name again. But Mr Conoley, 50, is certainlyambitious – and an articulate, enthusiastic believer in the power of the internet, blogging frequently on all sorts of issues. He's also moved the company towards a more "open source" philosophy, sharing its secrets with customers and partners in the hope of collectively finding improvements. All very Web 2.0.

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