Nine wireless network companies to watch

Smarter smart phones, beyond the BlackBerry and exploiting XML

Formotus

Founded: October 2005

Location: Bellevue, Washington

What it offers: FormoPublish, a software application and monthly subscription service that manages XML-based data access forms created by users with the InfoPath forms tool in Microsoft Office, distributing them to any Windows Mobile device. Using these FormoApps, downloaded wirelessly, mobile users can access and update any enterprise application that has a Web services interface, without any IT involvement or resources. Users can create their own forms and update or extract any data exposed via a Web service on back-end ERP, CRM or other enterprise systems.

Why it's worth watching: Formotus exploits, and exploits simply, what mobile users already know and have -- InfoPath and Microsoft Office -- and what enterprises already have -- existing data in back-end applications accessible via Web services. That combination covers an awful lot of corporate data access and update requirements for mobile workers. And it doesn't require a new IT application development infrastructure or network changes.

Management: Joe Verschueren, co-founder and CEO, with several start-ups under his belt, including ImageX in 1995, for which he eventually raised over US$160 million and took public in 1999. Twice a finalist for Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year, he was one of the original members of US West NewVector Group, a cellular company now part of Verizon Wireless. Co-founder and CTO is Adriana Neagu, one of the creators of the InfoPath technology at Microsoft, where she worked for a decade on products such as SQL Server.

How it got its start: The founders met when Verschueren, looking for a mobile start-up play, was in talks with Microsoft to create a mobile version of InfoPath. Neagu, looking for a career change after 10 years with Microsoft, was ready for a start-up. Kismet. The founders saw a chance to leverage the then-new InfoPath technology to simplify data access and updates for the growing number of mobile workers.

How company got its name: The prefix "Form" relates to the kind of mobile applications -- electronic forms -- that the company's product creates and deploys. "Motus" is Latin for "motion."

Funding: Total to date is US$2.6 million from several angel investors (and board members), including former vice president Elwood Howse, pioneering Oracle database engineer Roger Bamford, and famed Microsoft researcher Gordon Bell.

Who's using the product: Mobilise IT, a mobile solutions company, is offering FormoPublish as a subscription service to IT customers in Australia and New Zealand.

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