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Jamba! Wants to Be the Yahoo! for UMTS phones

[Berlin, GERMANY] Six months after its foundation, the Berlin company Jamba! AG is fighting for leadership of the market for Internet mobile phone content.

Even though the fast UMTS phones won't arrive until 2002 at the soonest, co-founder and board member Alexander Samwer told the German press agency dpa, "I think that the market is already going to be decided in the next two years."

Jamba! wants to be to Internet-enabled GPRS mobile phones what Yahoo! is to the Internet: the most widely used home page from which a trip through the World Wide Web can begin. Shares of the firm are held by debitel, Mediamarkt-Saturn, and ElectronicPartner.

In the first six months, Jamba! gained nearly 400,000 customers for its WAP services. "We're very satisfied," says Samwer. After all, operational business has only been underway for three months.

However, customers have brought about sales of only around one million German marks in this time - and half of that is just for mobile phone ring tones. Earnings are expected to really take off with GPRS, when each customer will contribute multiple sales.

Samwer is sure that the devices with large displays which will be on the market in the second half of the year will shoot them to the top. In the first year of the new mobile phone standard, the young entrepreneurs are hoping for 25,000 to 50,000 GPRS customers.

A few years ago, Samwer and his brothers Marc and Oliver founded Alando, an auction platform that they later sold to the US company E-Bay. Jamba! has up to now had experience with 250 different mobile phone services in both areas.

Additionally, the Berlin company with its 50 full-time employees believes in owners as sales partners. Every Internet mobile phone bought from Mediamarkt, Saturn, or the ElectronicPartner group has been launched first on the Jamba! site.

At the top of the Berliners' wish list now is a fast entry onto the stock market. "For that, we want our figures to be good, but they don't necessarily have to be black." The initial equity financing of 55 million German marks (US $ 26.33 million) is a cushion that leaves them a bit of time.