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Retriever chases mobile data forms market

By Denise Murray, iTnews
Wednesday, March 01, 2000

Optus and Retriever Communications have rolled out a mobile data forms service aimed at sales reps, health workers and customer service workers.

Designed for sales forces and employees working in the field, Retriever is a data tracking service based on digital forms that works through a Windows CE handheld and GSM mobile phone. It allows remote capture, transmission and retrieval of data.

Optus Retriever is designed for organisations with 30 or more employees working in the field, such as sales reps, and the service industries. There are three products: HealthPad for roaming healthcare workers, Salespad for reps and Servicepad for maintenance and customer service troops.

An up-front fee of $20,000 per organisation covers setup; tailoring the Optus Retriever to suit the specific needs of the company and training field staff to use it.

Revenue from the $20,000 up-front fee goes to Retriever, while Retriever and Optus split the revenue from each users’ monthly bill of $140 (plus call costs). Billing is done through Optus.

John Filmer, Director Enterprise Cable & Wireless Optus, would not say how Retriever and Optus split the revenue.

Filmer said he didn’t think the cost of setting up and maintaining the Optus Retriever would be a barrier to entry for organisations.

“We estimate Australian businesses can reduce their field support administration costs by 40 percent a year with savings on double entry, incorrect data, miscommunication and unnecessary travel,” he said.

Mary Brittain-White, managing director and founder of Retriever Communications, said she expects to have two to three thousand subscriptions in Australia by the end of this year.

Although not announcing the European partner yet, Brittain-White expects two thousand subscriptions in Europe by Christmas, following a July launch in Italy, France and UK.

Venture Capital Partners and Momentum have provided the first round of venture capital underwriting Retriever’s international deployments in 2000. Retriever plans to float next year.

Optus’ Filmer hinted there were many more deals in the coming months like the one with Retriever, where partners use Optus’ networks, billing service and marketing muscle to drive their products.

Optus Retriever is compatible with any pen-based handheld computer using Windows CE as an operating system, such as Vadem Clio 1050 and Symbol PPT2700. While it does not support Palm OS, Brittain-White said it may by next year.

Compatible mobile phone handsets include the Nokia 7110 and Ericsson SH888, and Optus Retriever can be integrated with standard computer applications and email, suiting organisation’s existing applications.

Retriever Communications acquired the intellectual property of Sydney-based ceMIS - Centre of Excellence in Mobile Information Systems, a subsidiary of Apple – back in 1997 and developed the mobile application service to be delivered over Optus’ mobile network.

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