Kiwi board builders bag big bucks

An Auckland company that has struck out into the global market for computer boards for mobile devices is claiming a $2 million order in North America.

An Auckland company that has struck out into the global market for computer boards for mobile devices is claiming a $2 million order in North America.

Prolificx, which was set up last July in Manukau City, builds boards that account for up to 90% of what’s inside a PDA (personal digital assistant), says general manager Kevin Johnson.

The $2 million deal, which is an initial order, will be used as part of a fleet tracking system for a US customer whose name Johnson says he can’t disclose.

Prolificx boards are also used in health care as part of a mobile device for monitoring blood pressure.

Developers can test their software for mobile devices using the company’s starter kit, which includes an Eagle board, a display and touch screen and an ethernet port.

“People can develop on this, test their software on it and then come back and get a more customised board built,” says Johnson.

“We’ve found that electronics are so complex these days that not many people can put the resources into developing boards like these. There are many Visual Basic and Visual C programmers around who have great ideas but can’t get suitable hardware to test their software on. We design the hardware and get the OS working on the board and they have the vertical market knowledge to develop the application.”

Prolificx has picked up one or two projects locally, and works with local mobile software developers Orbiz and Sintium, though 95% of its revenue is from exports, with the US and Australia being its biggest markets.

It primarily develops for the Microsoft Windows CE and embedded Linux platforms, generally using Intel Strongarm and Xscale processors. Johnson says Prolificx is registered on the Microsoft and Intel websites as adeveloper partner, saying it receives many referrals from these.

He says Prolificx is able to compete globally because of New Zealand’s moderate cost structure, its similar culture and language to Australia, a timezone that allows staff to talk to the US in the morning and Asia in the afternoon and because Prolificx is more flexible than US competitors.

“They’re usually not interested in orders of under 10,000 units where as we’ll talk customisation from 1000 units upwards.”

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