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AOL Buys Wildseed For Wireless

America Online purchased wireless technology firm Wildseed as part of its effort to expand its services to mobile phones and other wireless devices, the company said Monday.

The Kirkland, Wash.-based Wildseed, best known for the SmartSkin interactive accessories that ran on the Curitel Identity handset, was founded by Microsoft alum Eric Engstrom.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

It is the second acquisition in the past two weeks for the world's largest Internet provider, which is snapping up services in preparation for the upcoming launch of My AOL.

Last week, AOL purchased online storage company Xdrive.

"Data-related mobile technologies are on the cusp of mainstream adoption," John McKinley, president and CTO of digital services at AOL, said in a statement. "We see it every day in the explosive growth of our mobile AIM traffic. The wireless industry is focused on bringing additional rich media experiences and a new generation of interactive services to the mobile consumer, and we are committed to being a leader in that arena."

Wildseed's technologies include a mobile Linux-based operating system, which provides support for Game Boy Advanced games, MP3 and video playback, remote device management, and a fully 'skinnable' user interface for delivering both branded and themed user experiences, according to AOL.

"With the combination of Tegic and Wildseed, we can offer our carrier and OEM partners the best-in-class platform they need to deliver these rich and engaging mobile experiences and help drive innovation and growth in the industry," McKinley said.

Many of the components that form Wildseed's mobile Linux solution can also be sold separately to non-Linux-based feature phones, McKinley said.

The expanded AOL Wireless division, which now includes AOL Mobile, Tegic and Wildseed, is expected to increase the delivery of services to mobile users with various software solutions, communications and content services supported by the top wireless carriers and handset manufacturers, the company said.

"Wildseed's advanced technologies will help AOL enhance the value of its wireless properties and speed the development and deployment of new applications and solutions that address the wants and needs of consumers and carriers," Wildseed founder Craig Eisler said.

Wildseed employees and operations will be integrated into AOL's Seattle offices and Engstrom will become AOL Wireless' senior vice president of wireless products, according to AOL.