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Summary:

Devicescape, a San Bruno, Calif.-company that launched at DEMO 2007 to mixed reviews, is rebranding itself and its Wi-Fi access software for mobile devices, including cell phones, as Easy Wi-Fi. The software makes it easier to log onto hotspots that normally require a sign-in using a […]

Devicescape, a San Bruno, Calif.-company that launched at DEMO 2007 to mixed reviews, is rebranding itself and its Wi-Fi access software for mobile devices, including cell phones, as Easy Wi-Fi. The software makes it easier to log onto hotspots that normally require a sign-in using a web-based authentication system. In conjunction with its name change, Devicescape says mobile-phone maker HTC will bundle the software in all its Windows Mobile phones.

The six-year-old company is backed by August Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Enterprise Partners and JAFCO and has raised a total of $26 million dollars in Series A and B rounds, according to VP of Corporate Marketing Kathleen Shanahan. It currently makes most of its revenue from licensing its software to device OEMS. Simon Wynn, VP of products at Devicescape, was tightlipped about the pace of growth at the firm and wouldn’t give details about how much money it’s making.

While Devicescape has increased the number of devices it supports to 90 including every WiFi-enabled BlackBerry and Apple’s iPhone, it is hard to see how it will turn this software offering into a big business. The company needs to get its software embedded into tens of millions of devices to bring in meaningful revenue.

  1. Brigid, while you’re spot on about the challenge being critical mass of adoption, I’d say their tactical problem is lack of marketing. While blog posts like yours help bring them *some* attention (and less than 100% positive), they’re all but invisible out there.

    I’ve been a happy user of their app on my Nokia N95 for a couple of years, and on my iPhone since their release for that platform. But I’m a gadget freak — I seek this stuff out. Sadly, I can personally attest to almost 20 installs I’m responsible for on friends phones, who had never heard of the app — and these are intelligent, market-aware colleagues in internet industries — hardly “civilians”.

    If they can’t even successfully get the word out en masse to digerati road-warriors, then sadly their days might in fact be numbered.

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  2. I agree Thom. As a happy user/freak of my free Devicescape (did I mention that it is Free!!!) , the lack of marketing and direction seems obvious. It appears this is just another attempt to pump some air into a dying patient. As an example, just talking about how much money someone raised is irresponsible alone, how much is on hand and how it was or will be invested is a more interesting (if not appropriate) story to tell. I want to know what they are doing differently, and what it means to me- I suspect nothing. I also suspect they are nearly broke and now desperate- they recently had massive layoffs. In fact, it does not seem that Devicescape wants us to know what customers like HTC are actually putting into their phones, as it does appear to be the the same “Connect” product they have been forced to give away on their website and, have fruitlessly pumped millions into so that I can get it for FREE!!!!!!. What marketing genius is behind all of this?

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  3. maybe someone bought them? i too had been told these guys were shutting down. they recently cut a lot of jobs, closed offices and are trying to rent out their corporate hq office. i’m not sure what this hype is all about. it’s a decent free product for a couple of guys to have built.

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  4. Tom, Dan, Jack,

    Thanks for your comments. Just to set the record straight, Devicescape is just fine and rumors of massive layoffs, our demise or acquisition are not accurate. It is true that we are seeking to sublease part of our HQ and that we closed our development office in Calgary, sadly letting go 2 engineers in the process. We certainly miscalculated the size we would be and the space we would need and even though it’s embarrassing to make a mistake like that it’s a practical step to take. The reporter asked about money raised and we answered, but I would agree with you that it’s hardly relevant and has nothing to do with our recent announcements.

    Moving on, we’re glad that you’re enjoying the free Easy Wi-Fi. You likely know it’s difficult and expensive to create consumer awareness. Our methodology involves working with our customers, the device manufacturers, to achieve broad distribution at a low cost. We’re pleased that Easy Wi-Fi is available in (almost) every N and E Series Nokia device. It’s also the top selling wifi application on the Apple App Store after just 1 month (go check). All of this was done with a very small marketing investment, with a (mostly) free product designed to be frictionless for consumers as a way to stimulate interest from our actual customers, the device OEMs.

    As the reporter said, we won’t get meaningful revenue unless we’re installed on millions of phones. I couldn’t agree more. That’s the plan!

    Best wishes.
    Dave

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  5. [...] thinks many of these devices will have access to both a 3G and Wi-Fi radio, and will be able to seamlessly and appropriately switch between the two. AT&T introduced some pricing innovation earlier this year by offering a bundled plan for [...]

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