RealTime IT News

Trimble Locates More GPS Assets

Trimble , a vendor of Global Positioning System (GPS) applications for mobile handsets, is picking up the pace with GPS-enabled devices with its purchase of privately-held Spacient Technologies for an undisclosed amount of cash.

Spacient makes enterprise field service management and mobile mapping software for municipalities and utilities. The buy gives Trimble a platform for expanding in those markets with mobile-based applications.

Trimble's been on a buying spree lately, while establishing new relationships with handset manufacturers. And with good reason.

The market for handheld devices of all sorts is burgeoning. A report published by Gartner this week indicated that worldwide sales of handheld computers increased by almost 32 percent in the third quarter of 2006, compared with the third quarter of last year.

Roughly half of those devices were purchased by enterprises.

Not only that, GPS-enabled devices are coming on fast in the handheld market. Finnish cell phone maker Nokia, for one, is enabling 15 million units in 2006 with GPS abilities, close to 50 percent more in 2005. Last month, Trimble inked a cross-licensing agreement with Nokia .

Spacient's crown jewel is Fieldport, an Internet-based Geographic Information System (GIS) centric, wireless software applications suite focused on utilities field service management.

The company intends to combine technology from Spacient with its own GPS applications to allow information from enterprise asset management, call center management and GIS mapping systems to travel to handheld devices in the field.

Doug Merrill, general manager of Trimble's Mapping and GIS Division, said that the acquisition will allow Trimble to expand into what he called "a strategic area of focus for Trimble."

"Spacient Technologies provides us with an enterprise software platform to increase field productivity and customer satisfaction for our utility customers," added Merrill in a statement.

Fieldport is available both as a hosted subscription service or as an on-premise application.

The application can run on a wide variety of mobile devices, including the Windows Mobile, Palm, and PocketPC-based mobile devices, rugged and non-rugged notebook and tablet computers, Blackberry devices, pagers and digital phones.

Earlier this month, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company also acquired XYZ Solutions, a vendor of real-time, interactive 3D intelligence software used to manage the spatial aspects of construction projects.