Devicescape in Overhype Mode

Devicescape, a San Bruno company that makes Wi-Fi software put out a press release that is basically a whole bunch of lies. They claim that their software “enables effortless network access for Wi-Fi Devices – Any Device, Any Network, Any Time.” Talk about a headline that fudges the truth. Of course, at the bottom of the press release the company makes a little confession:

Devices supported: PCs with Windows XP, Windows Mobile 5 Smartphones, the Nokia 770 Web tablet and the Linksys WIP 300 VoIP phone. Many more planned

Planned is such an ephemeral word, and doesn’t mean anything. For instance, I have plans to date Ms. Universe. An “Any Device” claim should at least include the Symbian devices such as E61, E70, or a Mac laptop. How about Belkin Wi-Fi phones? Or Vonage phones? “Any Device” is a long list.

I wonder who is making decisions at this company. I understand that WinMobile phones need special software to help easily connect to networks like T-Mobile’s, which is stuck in the dark ages of the dumb “Web-based gateway access” model. But if you use a PC, the browser can remember your password and username, so it is a lot less painful and the need for Devicescape software isn’t that immediate.

The devices that desperately need Devicescape-like software are mobile phones with Wi-Fi. If you look at the networks their software supports, Devicescape is highly skewed to the European markets – markets where people are big Symbian users. The sales of Wi-Fi-enabled dual mode handsets (that use Symbian OS) are increasing in Europe. And yet, there is no Devicescape client software for Symbian phones. Instead they develop a client for the Nokia Tablet, a device whose actual sales numbers are embarrassingly small.

Devicescape is a white-label solutions provider and wants to sell their software to device makers or network operators. The company, which had raised nearly $12.2 million in venture funding from the likes of August Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, has just raised undisclosed millions in the third round of funding, according to Matt Marshall. Hopefully that will help bring the software to devices that actually need it.

Glenn Fleishman has details on how the system works:

…allows access at public hotspots that require authentication by tunneling login information via DNS. The handheld device stores no authentication information, and uses the tunneled credentials and other details to perform the login; entering credentials and account details occurs at a Web site.

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