Esmertec wins praise and venture capital

Virtual assistants on mobile phones are enabled by Java software. Siemens

Popular among the leading manufacturers of mobile phones, esmertec’s software is gaining the praise of wireless industry pundits and attracting venture capital.

This content was published on November 14, 2003 minutes

Although the figure is not official, industry insiders (“EETimes” and “VentureWire”) say that esmertec has raised some €23 million this quarter from investors.

That amount - the company’s third round - makes it one of the largest venture investments in an innovative Swiss company outside of the biotechnology industry this year.

Customers of the Zurich-based company include chip suppliers such as Texas Instruments, Agere Systems, Qualcomm and Intel, and mobile phone manufacturers including Siemens Mobile.

According to the firm, it supplies Java technology to seven leading mobile phone players in Korea, form tier 1 companies to the emerging ODMs (original development manufacturers).

Way forward

Mobile phones and the new, more data-oriented handheld PDAs now let users customise their phones with downloadable games, applications, address books, video viewers, multimedia messaging services.

The de facto standard that appears to be emerging is a very thin or lean version of Java, known as J2ME.

Java, whether it is running an application inside a browser, PC or handset has to have a virtual machine, and esmertec’s is one of the fastest. It was a pioneer in this type of virtual machine technology.

It is important because lean software uses less of the precious battery power in mobile. According to “IT Director”, a trade publication, “esmertec has consistently promoted long battery life with a lean, mean Java platform.”

It believes that all mass-market mobile phones will need to run Java applications, while questioning whether they would ever need a full-blown open operating system.

Its main competitor is the Japanese firm, Aplix.

by Valerie Thompson

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