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SPYGLASS BETS ITS FUTURE ON INTERNET PHONES AND PDAS

Browser and Web server company Spyglass Inc is staking the future of its company on cut down browsers for Network Computers, cellphones, Internet phones, pagers, personal digital assistants and browsers for televisions. While Microsoft Corp, whose Internet Explorer browser is based upon Spyglass technology, and Netscape Communications Corp are pumping more features into their Web clients in a bid to win the all-important pull-through server business, Spyglass has been doing the opposite, says Jay Friedland, vice president of marketing for Spyglass’s SurfWatch Internet content monitoring products. On the Network Computer front, Spyglass’s browser will run on some of Oracle Corp’s models, but by no means all of them. Other takers of the cut down versions of the Mosaic browser include InfoGear Inc of Woodside, California for its Internet phone, iPhone, due out in April, and US Robotics Inc which is to run the cut down browser on its Pilot palm top Personal Digital Assistant, which sells for $250. Spyglass also has its eye on the office equipment market where, it claims, printer and photocopier manufacturers can’t wait to get rid of the screen on the photocopier and instead enable users to manage the print queue from their personal browser. Another possible market is embedding browsers in vending machines, so they can dial back to base when the candy bar stocks run low. Friedland also reckons there are eight million set-top boxes out there installed by cable companies just waiting to run its browsers too. It offers two cut down versions of Mosaic. Remote Mosaic is a viewer component which takes up just 20Kb memory and enables you to run a Java applet on the server, and pass the information it produces down to a Personal Digital Assistant. Device Mosaic is a 2Mb browser for Network Computers. So sure is Spyglass of the embedded market, that Friedland says it is not a case of whether Internet devices will be a success, it’s a case of which ones will be. Embedded products accounted for 15% to 20% of revenue in the quarter which ended last September. Spyglass hopes to double or triple this revenue stream. Another 25% of revenue comes from the company’s professional services organization, which bends and twists the server and browser code to make it fit a hardware vendor’s device, and can also manage the whole project to make sure the devices get out the door on time. Next quarter the company plans to announce the hardware customers that have signed up to buy Prism, Spyglass’s software that converts rich Web content to poor content. In practice this means turning color graphics into black and white to save bandwidth. Spyglass puts its imminent dip into the financial red down to a number of factors; first its change of direction into the embedded market, for which it has ramped up research and development spend to 40%, from 25%, a high level more common at a startup company. Second, that revenue from browsers on a TV set will take a while to appear as the design-to-ship cycle is longer. At the moment, Spyglass is going through Microsoft Corp’s books to check for any missed royalty payments on Internet Explorer which is based on Spyglass’s browser. Even if Microsoft gave away copies of Internet Explorer, the company still has to pay Spyglass royalties for them.

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CBR Staff Writer

CBR Online legacy content.