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Aether Puts Some Wireless into MicroStrategy

MicroStrategy Inc. Friday got a boost from Aether Systems Inc., which agreed to lead an investment round in, and forge an alliance with, the e-business software provider.

Wireless product specialist Aether paved the way with $25 million of a $52.75 investment round in Strategy.com, a subsidiary of MicroStrategy that helps companies connect with their customers by delivering personalized information via Web, wireless and voice applications.

Aether will take a 15 percent stake in Strategy.com. The firm has already invested $14.99 million, and will invest an additional $10 million subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions.

At the heart of the deal lies an agreement by the two firms to develop MicroStrategy 7M®, or MicroStrategy 7 Mobile, a product created to incorporate Aether's wireless technology with the MicroStrategy 7 platform.

MicroStrategy 7M will be designed to combine the wireless data, security and transmission features of Aether Intelligent Messaging (AIM) with the personalized eCRM and business intelligence capabilities of the MicroStrategy 7 platform.

Now global 2000 firms will be able to access the MicroStrategy 7 suite with such devices as Palm's handhelds and cell phones. In turn, employees for these firms can carry out secure transactions with their customers.

One example the companies list is that of airline flights. If a flight was cancelled, the airline could scan its database for the would-be passenger and notify them via their wireless device of preference. That convenience will save clients from extra frustration.

Aether, whose Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dave Oros will join the board of Strategy.com, should benefit quite nicely from the deal as well. The wireless outfit will offer Strategy.com Network services to its customers, including finance, weather and news.

"Aether's alliance with MicroStrategy provides an outstanding opportunity to extend our wireless technology and services to the leading global corporations that have turned to MicroStrategy to benefit from the company's Intelligent E-Business Software," Oros said.

The remaining investors include Nevis Capital Partners of Baltimore and several private investors whose names MicroStrategy spokesperson Michael Quint would not disclose Friday.

Quint did say that the deal with Aether was its greatest wireless play to date. Quint said Strategy.com has powered some of Verizon Wireless' mobile initiatives, as well as providing wireless e-maile updates for Ameritrade customers.

MicroStrategy's news comes after the firm earlier this month said it was overhauling its e-business strategy to do better business with clients. The centerpiece of this strategy is a Web store where new and existing customers will be able to demo, configure, upgrade and order software directly online via a standard pricing model -- something already available from rivals such as Dell, Oracle and Cisco.