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GoAmerica: Is It Going Anywhere?

Founded in 1995, GoAmerica was meant to develop wireless solutions for the trucking and limo business. Of course, much has happened since then. Now, the company is developing a technology infrastructure that provides for seamless mobile access to e-mail and corporate data - using handhelds, PDAs and 2-way messengers. GoAmerica calls its technology Go.Web.

Despite tough conditions, GoAmerica was able to launch its IPO in April 2000, raising $148.8 million. But the stock has had big swings. The high is $19-5/16 and the low is $5-1/4.

But with money in the bank and public stock as currency, expect GoAmerica to quickly morph its technology. For example, the company recently purchased Wynd Communications, which develops wireless services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. There are about 42 million Americans who have varying levels of speech and/or hearing problems, which conventional wireless technologies do not address effectively.

GoAmerica has been adept at forming key relationships. One deal was with Electronic Data Systems, the huge computer integration company. Both companies intend on joining forces to create next-generation wireless technologies. The companies will provide end-to-end mobile products and services for not only the Global 2000, but also small and mid-size companies.

Another huge deal was with Hewlett-Packard, which will integrate the Go.Web technology within the company's wireless wide area network solutions, as well as for HP notebooks. The products will offer "always on" wireless connectivity

According to International Data Corporation, the number of Net-activated wireless device users in the US will grow 728 percent to 61.5 million in 2003. Despite this, the wireless marketplace is still nascent. Go America has 8,700 subscribers (although, this was 52% higher than the levels of the end of last year). In the past quarter, revenues were $1.4 million, which compares to $355,000 in the same period a year ago. Losses were $42.1 million. But, there was great improvement in the average monthly revenue generated per customer. Last year, it was $25.03; last quarter, it was $38.04.

In the Net wireless space, there will be winners, but also a good deal of roadkill. But so far, GoAmerica has been very aggressive in its vision. And it is definitely riding a market with lots of potential.