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Wireless and mobile companies worth watching

From IT management services to Apple iPhone apps, mobile vendors are targeting enterprise users with some unique offerings

By , Network World
October 05, 2009 09:45 AM ET

Page 3 of 5

Company name: MobileIron

Founded: July 2007, decloaked and announced product August 2009

Location: Sunnyvale, Calif. 

What it offers: With the MobileIron Virtual Smartphone Platform, agent code on the enterprise smartphone talks to the server, which creates and stores a phone clone: a mirror image of the device's content, activities and applications, such as locally stored files and dropped voice calls. Via the clone, the IT department has complete visibility into the mobile device and its data, analogous to the visibility into a desktop computer on the corporate LAN. There are two service packs: IT management services, dealing with device and application management, and mobile activity intelligence, a kind of data mining and analysis for improving service quality and cost management.

Why it's worth watching: Because enterprise smartphones are worth watching, and watching over. Megabytes of corporate data are in handsets and SD cards, with no central understanding or control of what's out there. Through a set of detailed reports, IT departments can identify cost controls, optimize service quality for users and control application downloads.

How the company got its start: Founders Ajay Mishra (a co-founder of  wireless LAN vendor Airespace) and Suresh Batchu concluded that the growing number of smartphones with masses of corporate data posed new challenges that IT departments lacked tools to address. The MobileIron software was designed to let IT see and control that data, along with mobile usage.

How the company got its name: The name is intended to suggest a strong framework and foundation for enterprise mobility.

CEO and background: Bob Tinker, also president, previously worked at Cisco, where he headed business development for the company's wireless business unit. He joined the company from Airespace, which Cisco bought in 2005.

Funding: In August, MobileIron closed a second round of funding, adding $11 million from venture capital backers, bringing  the total to $19.8 million.

Who uses the product: Announced customers are Fenwick & West, a technology and life science law firm; and Windsor Foods, a southern California retail chain.

Company name: Pixtronix

Founded: Pixtronix was founded in 2005 and introduced in October 2008 its breakthrough low-power, high-quality display technology for mobile devices.

Location: Andover, Mass.

What it offers: Though its screens can be built with existing LCD manufacturing systems, the PerfectLight Display discards multiple LCD components and layers by introducing a radically simpler means to control light: a tiny, electro-mechanical shutter, one per pixel, that opens and closes in software-controlled sequences.

Why it's worth watching: Deceptively simple in concept, the MEMS shutter has a wide-ranging impact on many elements in the display and its ability to be manufactured. PerfectLight passes through 60% to 80% of the light from the backlit display, compared with 5% to 8% with today's LCD technology, says Mark Halfman, vice president of marketing. That translates into a 10-fold optical boost, the vendor claims. You end up with full-speed, no-blur video with 24-bit color, a 170-degree viewing angle and a 75% reduction in power demand. Mobile screens can get bigger, brighter and have higher resolution, yet without sucking the life out of your battery.

How the company got its start: Founder Nesbitt Hagood was considering several technology options to launch a company. The idea for a MEMS-based display garnered very strong positive reaction from prospective customers.

How the company got its name: Hagood created the name from "pixel" and "electronics" even before he had decided on the company's specific product focus.

CEO and background: Anthony Zona, most recently a senior executive with Motorola's fiber-to-the-premises business unit. He landed there after Motorola bought Quantum Bridge Communications, which Zona founded to build fiber access solutions. Nesbitt Hagood, president and COO, is the former founder of Continuum Photonics, creating products for optical telecommunications and testing.

Funding: Series B round of $11 million in August 2009, bringing total investment to $19.8 million.

Who uses the product: No one yet. The company has signed contracts with "multiple display makers" and is transferring the Pixtronix technology to those licensees. The vendor expects production prototypes in 2010, with large-scale introductions in 2011.

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