SMS Wireless Apps on Way

DemoMobile to highlight wireless tools that ease management, messaging.

Applications that promote next-generation wireless services and tools that will ease the management of wireless networks are making their way to market.

At the DemoMobile show this week in La Jolla, Calif., manufacturers and developers will show new and forthcoming products that focus on SMS (Short Message Service) text technology, something that most carriers offer but that has been slow to catch on in the United States.

PocketThis Inc. will introduce two applications that combine SMS with the ability to clip information and save it on a mobile device, according to officials at the Oakland, Calif., company.

PocketThis takes information from the Web or a PC and sends it to a customers phone with a series of one-touch options built in to the application, such as send to a friend, call to buy tickets, get insurance quote or check flight status. Officials said the prospect of multimedia messaging would enable more complex transactions.

Also at the show, M-Qube Inc., of Boston, will introduce a platform for advertisers to launch marketing campaigns via SMS, with a focus on North American customers, according to a company spokeswoman.

Application developers who use SMS in the United States say customers like it but that they often dont know their phones have the capability because carriers dont promote it.

"We educate them, mostly," said Christopher Bell, chief technology officer of People2People Group, a Boston company whose services include sending personal ad matches through SMS. "We explain that we can give them fast notification by directly messaging to their phones. Its about the value to them—not the technology."

Still, it could be some time before American corporate users warm to SMS.

"In Europe, the demand is extremely high," said Nancy Benovich Gilby, CEO of PocketThis. "Theyre always looking for additional uses for SMS. What we found in talking to corporations here is that theyre interested in having mobile data, but besides having mobile Internet access and e-mail access, it isnt crucial."

Carriers recognize that new services need applications to support them, however.

Sprint PCS Group, which launched last month its nationwide, third-generation network, will introduce applications for the network along with a new device at DemoMobile, according to company officials in Kansas City, Mo.

On the application access front, ThinkingBytes Technology Inc. at DemoMobile will announce an application development platform for enterprise customers that includes Microsoft Corp.s Windows and Pocket PC operating systems (and wireless communication between them). The platform will include other devices in the future, officials said.

In the past, the Lexington, Mass., company has focused on static database applications for Palm Inc.s Palm OS handhelds only.

Net6 Inc., of San Jose, Calif., will launch an updated version of its namesake hardware device that transforms multiple enterprise applications to fit multiple small screens.

On the management front, Newbury Networks Inc. will introduce software that manages WLANs (wireless LANs) remotely. Newburys networks are location-enabled, meaning the tools focus on securing, provisioning access to and mining data according to the locations of the components of a widespread WLAN, said officials, in Boston.

Meanwhile, startup Canesta Inc., also of San Jose, will launch at DemoMobile its first product, a set of chips for personal digital assistants and cell phones that project a virtual keyboard in front of the device—permitting a user to type on a keyboard made of light, reported sources close to the company. The enhancement is designed to increase users ability to communicate with such devices without increasing the size or weight of the units.