Ericsson-Synergy mobile app venture thin on corporate clients

The Ericsson-Synergy mobile application joint venture is 'very much on target' in gaining clients, says chief executive Stephen Crombie. But less business is coming from mainstream commercial enterprises than expected.

The Ericsson-Synergy mobile application joint venture is “very much on target” in gaining clients, says chief executive Stephen Crombie. But less business is coming from mainstream commercial enterprises than expected. When the venture between the telco and the Wellington software house was launched late last year, Ericsson and Synergy were expecting about half-and-half enterprise and network operators, Crombie says. But it finds itself working mainly with the latter, rather than from customers intending to use the mobile network to offer e-commerce services. Wellington-based Crombie expects more enterprises to come on board next year, when advanced telephone handsets arrive and are distributed to ultimate users. He denies that user-company slowness might reflect few ideas on “m-commerce” applications. There are a lot of good ideas out there, he says, and the telcos obviously see a large market. He declines, however, to talk about any of the local projects he is aware of. “It’s a very competitive business, and everything is kept firmly under wraps until launch.” Work with the ASB Bank is continuing, but has already resulted in one mobile product, the FastAlert service to warn of major changes in the share-price of a user-selected set of stocks. Ericsson-Synergy is also developing middleware to facilitate development of m-commerce and mobile internet applications, Crombie says. Several telcos here and in Australia are co-operating in this work. On the “mobile internet” side, outside m-commerce, he sees a future in gaming, and the company hopes to be able to launch several products in that area later this year. This will range from blackjack to sophisticated multi-user games played by “a community” across the internet. Ericsson-Synergy is also ahead of its business plan financially, he says, declining to reveal when the joint venture is likely to start making a profit. It is also on track to fulfil its adventurous visions at the company’s launch to provide work for 150 New Zealand researchers and developers. That was always a target for the third year, he says. “We’re still only in the first year, and we’ve got 35 full-time staff.”

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