NEC has invested $15 million in Silicon Valley based Vadem, which builds chips and hardware for devices based on Microsoft's Windows CE operating system.
A pioneer in the mobile computing arena, Vadem has been working with NEC for about two years developing processors for CE devices. This investment gives NEC a 13 per cent stake in the company.
Vadem refocused its direction in 1997 under the leadership of chief executive John Zhao, after he resigned his position at US Robotics.
The executive team at Vadem has forged two key partnerships. One is a strategic partnership with NEC's semiconductor group, signed in 1996, whereby Vadem designs and market's NEC's Risc microprocessors with emphasis on Windows CE portable applications. And under the second partnership, Vadem is a certified Microsoft Windows CE developer and systems integrator.
Vadem has been a leader in supplying single-chip processors, PCMCIA controllers and embedded Internet products for 15 years. In addition, it recently acquired a company that develops and markets pen and Internet software products including Calligrapher handwriting recognition, called Paragraph.
Vadem has rolled out its initial offering, the Clio handheld PC, which weighs three pounds and has a footprint of 8.5 by 11 inches. It runs CE and has a built-in modem.
At least, units such as Clio will get hardware makers and consumers to "start thinking about what's possible," said Rob Enderle, an analyst at Giga Information Group.
Yet Enderle said these devices will play best among vertical markets such as healthcare, insurance and sales, where most tasks are repetitive data input or access.
Scheduled to ship in volume before the end of the year, Clio will be available initially in an English version with no specific plans for international sales at this time. Distribution will include direct sales and through catalogues, some Vars and a few retailers. The product will also be sold over the Internet at the company's web site, www.vadem.com.
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