"We looked at AIR Media as the group that could take our technology and take our content and push it across multiple networks, which means we could enter the BREW [Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless, a technology from Qualcomm Inc.] market or the Java gaming market," Philp said.
AIR Media provided a sophisticated technological solution and offered an unusual business arrangement, Philp said. In this partnership, AIR Media would receive a percentage of each SkillJam transaction rather than operate under a traditional software licensing agreement. This meant that AIR Media had a strong interest in the success of the project beyond just any companys desire to stake a reputation and build a customer relationship.
"AIR Media has significant time and interest invested here, so they are really busting it to get this product where it needs to be, as opposed to if we just licensed it and had a product," Philp said.
In addition, the AIR Media solution offered seamless integration with SkillJams security system. "AIR Media provided a clean extension of the existing SkillJam Web clients to the mobile space," Philp said. "This meant that a SkillJam mobile client-side component has support for user log-in authentication, associated encoding/encryption, game score encoding/encryption and other general anti-tamper techniques."
SkillJam officials began talking to AIR Media representatives last spring. The deal was finalized last fall, and Philp said that seven months after closing the deal the company is ready to launch the new product. Considering the level of customization and interaction required between the parties, Philp said the process of incorporating the AIR Media software into SkillJams network infrastructure has gone relatively smoothly.
"This was a new venture for all of us here, but, luckily, AIR Media made it smooth," Philp said. "We basically had to supply them with the information they needed. They took on a lot of the workload and really got behind what they said they would do. Its a constant interaction between our developers and theirs to make sure we are getting to the point we needed to be."
The new product, which Philp projects to go live next month, will be known as SkillJam Mobile. For the initial product launch, SkillJam Mobile will be separate from the SkillJam.com site, giving users separate log-ons. Philp said the company hopes to combine the two sites in the future.
SkillJam Mobile will offer what Philp calls multipack gaming, an innovative concept in the mobile space. Most carriers have games on their systems but are able to deliver them only one at a time.
"What we are offering, and what AIR Media is helping us deliver, is a suite of games in a single offering," Philp said.
SkillJam Mobile is about to go through its final network stress testing in anticipation of certification from National Software Testing Labs, Philp said. "We are in the 11th hour of getting ready for launch. We are getting into QA [quality assurance]. At that point, we will be certified by NSTL," he said.
SkillJam doesnt have signed contracts in hand with major carriers just yet, Philp said. That will have to wait until the company passes certification tests and proves it can handle major carrier network traffic.
"The tests document that this software can make it as though [it has been] launched on a major network or carrier," Philp said. "We cannot have an agreement until certification is complete, but we have been in positive discussions. We will eventually be with a large number of the major carriers."
In the meantime, Philp said he remains optimistic. "We look at mobile as a great way to grow and a great way to expand across several channels and increase our customer space by a significant amount," he said.
Ron Miller is a free-lance writer in Amherst, Mass. He can be reached at email@example.com.