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Action Engine Lays Ground For Mobility

Action Engine is gearing up in its battle to be the leading provider of application software for the newest generation of phones and mobile devices. Today the Bellevue, Wash., company announced the newest version of its Action Engine Mobile Application Platform.

The addition of Java support in the latest release adds to Action Engine's support of Windows Mobile and Symbian-powered devices. According to market research firm Ovum, 80 percent of all handsets sold worldwide in 2005 will support Java, and the installed base of these handsets exceeds 850 million devices.

The Mobile Application Platform features a browser-less, client/server approach to accessing transaction-oriented online services, which Action Engine claims takes 80 percent fewer keystrokes and results in 20 times faster response times than browser-based alternatives.

As part of its application platform, Action Engine includes Action Info, a suite of browser-less mobile applications, which were introduced in Sprint's PPC-6700 smartphone announced earlier this month. The applications are designed for one-handed operation and can be accessed offline to make it easier to create search requests for such content as news, dining, movies, weather, directions and shopping services.

Features include touch data entry, pre-populated drop-down pick lists to speed request creation, offline display of requests and results, automatic resume in the event of a dropped connection, and integration with e-mail, contacts, calendar, phone dialer, messaging and maps.

The suite aligns with Action Engine's goal to be device-independent and reach the largest number of mobile devices possible.

"To count on consumers finding us is a losing game," Scott Silk, CEO of Action Engine, told internetnews.com. "We're shooting for getting burned into ROM, embedded in as many phones as we can."

Silk said the company has been in "ramp-up" mode and, although not well-known, has raised $45 million and invested heavily in R&D. "We intend to become a dominant player."

Taking a small step in that direction, the company also announced that it has successfully completed a pilot program with Australian mobile operator Optus to analyze the intuitiveness and speed of the Action Engine mobile application experience.

Paul Kitchin, director of Optus business marketing, said Optus was pleased with the speed and ease-of-use of the applications that were evaluated on the Mobile Application Platform.

"Action Engine's platform delivers important usability criteria, including responsiveness, number of keystrokes, navigational features, personalization capabilities, and a consistent user interface design," Kitchin said in a statement..

The company has designed its software specifically for the mobile environment without trying to replicate the PC experience.

"We've learned that carriers don't want to buy technology but solutions, and they don't necessarily want to host a solution but just get it into the marketplace," said Silk. "We build a one stop shop where we build and host applications, and even host for the enterprise or consumer customer."