Phoenix Technologies, a company that for 20 years has had a steady but unspectacular presence in the PC world, said it will propel itself and other "no-name white box" vendors into the Internet age.
The company will use its BIOS boot-up firmware, installed on 70 per cent of the world's PCs, to muscle in on the Windows desktop, bypassing Microsoft's control of that space.
Phoenix has signed a plethora of deals with Internet companies, such as AOL, Yahoo, the Internet Service Provider (ISP), Earthlink, and security firm Trend Micro. Icons from these companies and others will pop up on the desktop when users boots up their machine.
There will be four or five icons on each new desktop, all offering a "value proposition" said Phoenix vice president of marketing, Laurent Gharda. Buyers of brand name computers normally have pre-loaded software from ISPs and content providers included but it is rare for that to happen with white boxes, which make up more than 30 per cent of sales in both the US and Europe.
As well as revealing its new partnerships, Phoenix made several other announcements that will help bolster its plans, including creating a new subsidiary ebetween.com that will develop the plan.
Also Japanese hi-tech conglomerate, Softbank, has taken a 20 per cent stake in ebetween.com and has sold to Phoenix its Softbank Marketing Solutions (SMS) business. SMS acts a registration centre for a number of PC makers. It will expand that business to register "white box" users who want to sign up for services and products from ebetween partners.
Phoenix has also begun contracting with motherboard makers, which install the company's BIOS firmware on the ROM, so they will also include products and services built on its new Virtual Bundling Technology (VBT) when they ship in the fourth quarter.
Gharda said the European market would be very important to Phoenix because in percentage terms even more "white boxes" ship there than in the US. Gharda believes because Internet connection costs are lower in Europe more people will want to use the link-ups on offer. "We will be doing many things to ensure we are strong in Europe, particularly we will have local language compatibly," said Gharda.
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