tirsdag 2. februar 2010

Aricent launches “experience engineering” to help mobile carriers launch gadgets

Why can’t mobile phone companies design hardware and create services that are as awe-inspiring as those created by Apple?
Aricent, a communications software maker, is trying to address that question by launching what it calls “Experience Engineering,” which is a holistic way of looking at mobile gadget design that focuses on delivering a truly delightful experience for the user. Its target customers are mobile carriers or phone makers who don’t have the benefit of selling iPhones or Google Nexus One cell phones.
Palo Alto, Calif.-based Aricent has the clout to back up this idea. The company makes a lot of the software that powers the world’s mobile phones. It has 8,000 employees and generated revenues of $465 million last year. But no one has ever heard of the company because it doesn’t brand its designs. Rather, customers such as Sprint, Motorola, or Nextel put their names on Aricent’s work and then sell it to consumers.
The problem with a lot of mobile phones is that they aren’t engineered by a single company to run on a particular network. Aricent uses its resources to create a total solution which includes the mobile hardware, infrastructure, software, and connectivity.
“The idea is to create an integrated strategy that focuses on the subscriber’s experience,” said Keith Higgins, vice president of marketing at Aricent.
Aricent was created as the hired gun of the mobile industry a few years ago as a spin-off from contract manufacturer Flextronics in a funding led by KKR and Sequoia Capital. (Other investors are the Family Office and the Canadian Pension Fund Investment Board). Aricent has more than 500 customers and works jointly with Frog Design, the industrial design firm owned by Flextronics, to design software for mobile phones, telecom infrastructure companies, and cell phone service providers. Aricent does everything from testing user interface prototypes on phone users to the billing operations for cell phone services.
It has a product portfolio of scores of products which it licenses to customers. Experience Engineering comes from combining all of Aricent’s resources. With Experience Engineering, Aricent works with mobile phone companies from conception to launch. The period of design could last anywhere from 18 months to three years. Among the recent designs are Intel, which recently showed off a digital sign platform, and Flo TV, the new mobile television service created by Qualcomm.
To do the same thing, rivals might have to engage firms such as Ideo, Accenture and Wipro to work together to build a new product. We’ll see whether this strategy means that those companies denigrated as “clone makers” can rise to the occasion and challenge the likes of Apple.

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