Inktomi Goes Wireless with Help from Partners

SAN MATEO (03/15/2000) - Inktomi Corp. yesterday shed its wired constraints, acquiring a stake in AirFlash, a mobile content and commerce ASP (application service provider), to deliver wireless and mobile solutions through portals and infrastructure software.

Along with the AirFlash agreement, Inktomi will also partner with six other companies, including Hewlett-Packard, Portal Software, and Cap Gemini, in working toward compiling a set of wireless services using Inktomi technology as a foundation.

AirFlash will integrate Inktomi Search, Directory, and Commerce engines with AirFlash's location-based technology, delivering device, and location-personalized content to mobile users in a solution called "AirFlash powered by Inktomi."

"A mobile user wants different kinds of content than a desktop user," said Swapnil Shah, director of new technology at Inktomi. "When a mobile user is accessing content, they want information now and for a specific event. It is very much real-time information. Also, they have very little real estate on their phone, so the information has to be very targeted and very focused. Also, the information has to be targeted around the location of the user, where the user is at that point."

Inktomi will team up with Portal Software, an infrastructure provider, to develop an infrastructure for delivery and billing of wireless content and applications, and will work with Cap Gemini, a system integration company, to support applications based on standards such as UTMS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications Services) and WAP (Wireless Access Protocol).

Also, Spyglass' Prism product will be integrated with Inktomi's Traffic Server caching platform to format dynamic Web content for particular mobile devices, including smart phones and handheld devices.

"The traffic server has been designed from day one to support multiple platforms and multiple, different kinds of content," Shah said. "This partnership allows content transformation to be done at the edge, so a portal site can take content from the Internet and transform it to the particular device of the user."

Other alliances with Sun Microsystems and HP will fill out the rest of Inktomi's wireless plans, providing the hardware and software platform for the content delivery, Shah said.

Inktomi expects the wireless market to take off within the next few years, and is positioning itself to take advantage of the impending wave of WAP-enabled phones and other devices.

"[Wireless] is just something that we believe is going to be bigger than the Internet is today," Shah said. "In some sense, it's the second coming of the Internet; it's showing all the characteristics of an early stage market that's going to explode."

Inktomi Corp., in Foster City, Calif., is at http://www.inktomi.com.

Stephanie Sanborn is an InfoWorld reporter.

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