Devicescape releases a software today that connects any of your WiFi devices automatically to a WiFi hotspot or muni network.
This is significant, because more cellphones are being equipped with WiFi, as the cost of WiFI chips hit bottom rates of $2. And by accessing WiFi with a Skype or other Internet (VoIP) phone, you can make cheap calls.
The service, a software download, automatically detects when there’s a Wifi network nearby; you can set the phone to vibrate, for example, to alert you when you’re near one. Phones, music players, or any other WiFi device can use the service. The device can also download subscribed information from Wifi hotspots, without you having to do anything.
The company has just raised an undisclosed amount of “millions” in a third round of capital, it told VentureBeat. This follows $12.2 millon it raised in January 2005 from firms including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Enterprise Partners Venture Capital, JAFCO Ventures, August Capital and Applied Materials.
Glenn Flinchbaugh, the company’s VP of products, said 300 cities across the U.S. are at some stage of deploying WiFi systems, and there are thousands of other hotspot providers, both free and paid. Devicescape lets your device communicate with even paid hotspots, but you have to pay to access it. Both the downloadable and pre-installed versions of the software interact with the Devicescape server to enable things like automatic hotspot login.
Devicescape’s chief competitor is Boingo, which aggregates WiFi networks for subscribers. Like Devicescape, Boingo has realized the promise of increasingly popular dual-mode phones, which work on GSM or WiFi (and thus make free Internet calls). However, Devicescape’s software is smaller, at 35KB, because it updates via communication with the Devicescape server. This gives it an advantage over Boingo’s MB-sized software, which has to store all of Boingo’s network information on the phone, which makes it not merely bulky, but costlier.
Devicescape hopes to make money by licensing its software to device manufaucturers. It will also strike partnerships with hotspot providers, getting a cut if it brings them more customers, said Flinchbaugh.
There will be more than 1 billion WiFi devices by 2010, according to Merrill Lynch.