Hoping to boost its position in the enterprise mobile solutions market, Infowave Software Thursday purchased Telispark Inc., a provider of mobile applications for large companies managing complex

equipment and inventory.

The US$8.4-million all-stock deal will allow Vancouver-based Infowave, which makes wireless software for mobile operators, firms and individuals users, to get a better foothold in markets like utilities, oil and gas and the U.S. Department of Defense, said Jerry Meerkatz, CEO of Infowave.

Telispark brings to the table 12 or 13 marquis clients including HydroOne, the U.S. Navy and Western Australia Water Corp., he said. Infowave and Telispark also share customers like Hewlett-Packard, Dell and IBM.

Although there are “”a whole host of vertical industries that love and need mobile applications,”” oil and gas and utilities are lucrative sectors because they have a tremendous number of employees in the field “”taking care of pipelines, taking care of towers,”” and who have to provide service, input, download information and deal with customers, Meerkatz said.

Before signing up with Arlington, Va.-based Telispark, Shell Oil employees used a paper-based system to handle their workload, he explained. Each day, they recorded notes on sheets and returned to the office to upload and download information.

“”Record-keeping was poor. Timing was slow. Efficiency and productivity were low. All the mobile application work that Telispark did with Shell Oil increased their efficiencies greatly.””

Meerkatz foresees few challenges in integrating the two product lines because of little overlap, unlike the merger between HP and Compaq, of which he was a part.

Infowave aims to use grant money recently awarded by the Canadian government to undertake the company’s core development in Vancouver, which will remain Infowave’s headquarters. Sales and marketing support will reside in Telispark’s home of Virginia.

“”There’s an opportunity on the Telispark side to utilize the basic platform of what we call our wireless business engine, to be able to own and control and to customize, as appropriate for customers, much more of their overall product portfolio.

“”On the Infowave side, it allows us to take the. . . wireless business engine with e-mail and an open architecture connector capability to specific verticals, with the applications that Telispark provides running on top of that.””

The two companies plan to expand regional coverage mainly in western Europe. Infowave now serves North America and western Europe, while Telispark is predominantly focused on the U.S. and eastern Canada.

Market opportunity for enterprise mobile solutions will this year reach US$1.2 billion for U.S. vendors and US$2.9 billion for all worldwide vendors, said Michael Blumberg, chief operating officer of management consulting firm, D.F. Blumberg Associates, in Philadelphia. Global adoption of these applications is growing by eight per cent each year.

In the past, it’s been costly and difficult to implement enterprise mobile solutions, he explained. Companies either had to scrap their existing infrastructure and put in a new system or hire a systems integrator to patch together two systems.

Today cheaper and smaller devices with significant processing power abound, he said.

Under the deal, Deloitte Consulting, which owned Telispark, will retain no more than 19.9 per cent of the issued and outstanding Infowave common shares.

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