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Motricity Announces Layoffs, Plans to Sell PocketGear

Motricity, mobile content provider and the owner of the former PalmGear and current PocketGear software distribution sites, has announced a significant reduction in its workforce and a shift in corporate strategy. The company has also made public its intention to discontinue "non-profitable and non-core businesses" including the planned divestiture of Pocketgear.com.

In a statement the Durham, NC company said they expects to reduce their workforce by approximately 250 positions over the next nine months. They are also moving their headquarters to Bellevue, WA, which is where their most recent acquisition, InfoSpace Mobile, is based.

Motricity LogoThe planned sale of PocketGear comes less than five months after it combined and consolidated with the former leading Palm OS software site, PalmGear. PalmGear was acquired by Power By Hand Holdings in October 2002, which later became Motricity.

In December, Motricity announced the sale of another direct to consumer property, eReader.com, to Fictionwise. Motricity will also be divesting certain business relationships in the media and entertainment arena, though they do not elaborate on specifics.

These moves come after the company recently raised over $185 million in a round of funding led by Advanced Equities, Inc., Carl Icahn and New Enterprise Associates, Inc. The company used $135m of that to finance the acquisition of InfoSpace's Mobile Services Business.

These developments are the result of the consolidation of the two companies. Ryan Wuerch, the current CEO of Motricity, will remain the chairman and chief executive officer of the combined company. Steve Elfman, who had been executive vice president for the InfoSpace unit, will serve as Motricity's president and chief operating officer.

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So, does anyone still think...

SeldomVisitor @ 3/4/2008 3:29:13 PM # Q
...Palm is gonna have PalmOS compatibility with Nova?

== "...The company has also made public its
== intention to discontinue "non-profitable and
== non-core businesses..."

RE: So, does anyone still think...
question fear @ 3/4/2008 3:49:47 PM # Q
Hmm, at this point I'm putting as being equally likely that tomorrow's Apple event is to declare "Screw the SDK, we're licensing windows mobile!"

RE: So, does anyone still think...
hkklife @ 3/4/2008 4:03:05 PM # Q
Hmmmmmm, maybe Motricity got spooked by Michael Mace's article?

In all seriousness, I think that the entire mobile software market has been on a gradual path to ultimate failure for years now.

To date, the ONLY solid execution I've seen of ESD/online software sales is Valve's Steam platform. It's simple, reliable, and trustworthy. Everything else is basically a joke. All of the non-steam services I've seen/used (iTunes, Rhapsody, Dataviz, PalmGear/PocketGear, PalmSource Software store, Palm Software Connection) are designed to essentially screw the paying customer and force re-purchasing whenever & wherever possible. It's like these sites selling mobile software for direct download are intended to implode after 3-5 years and leave paying customers high & dry.

In some ways I cannot fault Apple for wanting to lock down the iPhone software market. Look at all of the junk and abandonware that's cluttering the Palm OS market. And of those 'thousands' of apps that everyone touts, how many of them are still viable solutions and get at least an annual update? How many are NVFS-friendly? How many of them are Treo hard button-friendly? How many support 320x480?

Now, if Apple were really clever, they'd implement some kind of system into the SDK to keep the iPhone a walled garden (thus keeping the carriers happy with their support call headaches to a minimum) but let developers go hog wild on the iPod Touch.

Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX-->Verizon Treo 700P-->Verizon 755p

RE: So, does anyone still think...
Nycran @ 3/4/2008 8:32:36 PM # Q
HK - I'm curious. What is your problem with Mobihand (who delivers the software store here)? As a developer, I've found them to be *the only* Palm software store still offering decent customer service and still being progressive. Curious to hear your feedback.

RE: So, does anyone still think...
dkirker @ 3/4/2008 8:56:11 PM # Q
I agree with Nycran.

Mobihand seems to be the only trustworthy handheld ESD at this point in the game.

RE: So, does anyone still think...
hkklife @ 3/5/2008 12:18:28 PM # Q
Nycran/Dkirker et al:

I have NO issues with Mobihand whatsoever! It's just that I actually have never placed an order with them (well, I think I bought perhaps bought one game several years ago during a PIC software sale) so I cannot comment specifically on them.

In the past 3-4 years I've (especially in the past year) I've tried to purchase directly from the developer's site whenever possible as well as seek out freeware alternatives or just simply make do with my existing stable of apps. Prior to that, most of my purchaes were direct from Palm, direct from PalmSource, PalmGear or any other smaller publishers or developers (Beiks, Kickoo, GameLoft etc) that left me hanging or required me to purchase "download insurance" (DataViz).

I know Ryan's pleased with Mobihand and everything I do read online about Mobihand does indicate that they are definitely the best of the bunch.


On a similar but related note to any developers that may be reading this: what is your stance on reg codes being tied to a device's hardware ID? Does this really help curb piracy? I think it ends up annoying paying customers far more than it deters pirates. This becomes especially troubling when Palm's hit or miss quality control makes swapping out Treos a fairly frequent affair for power users. And the carriers would much rather swap out a device or give you a refurb than attempt to repair them! In the 14 months since I bought TomTom Navigator 6 as part of Palm's GPS kit, I've been through 3 700p's and now, on a 755p, do I really feel like I have a stable, reliable, usable device. But I've exceeded the number of times I can officially activate my TT6 software without dealing with TT support. Why should paying customers be punished by Palm's quality woes?

And what lessons can Apple learn from watching the ups and down of the Palm OS add-on software market? We all already know that the carriers like to point the finger (usually unnecessarily so) at add-on software being the cause of a myriad of hardware problems such as fading LCDs, flaky digitizers, unreliable radios etc.


Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX-->Verizon Treo 700P-->Verizon 755p

RE: So, does anyone still think...
dkirker @ 3/6/2008 4:44:17 AM # Q
hkklife,

Try Mobihand. I use them strictly for my software (and I try to purchase mostly through the PalmInfocenter software store). :)

As for reg codes... The secret is, well, really not a secret. Mostly they are to keep honest customers honest. Crackers generally enjoy the challenge (I have heard some interesting stories about the crack and fix battle going back and forth and getting heated). My philosophy has always been "If a human made it then a human can break it" (more or less).

With that being said, I prefer an iTunes style activation. The codes are tied to a single user, but that user can have the software running on a limited number of devices at one time (that limit can be either a hard limit, such as 5 in the iTunes case, or a dynamic limit based on any licensing fees, such as a site license). It seems that system would keep customers happy while not requiring the developer to give up most control. It also allows multiple software from one company (or multiple software from one ESD) to be tied to a single login. This is easier for connected software to do, though.

For a while I had been fond of the eBook style of using a credit card. This meant that a user would want to keep the card secret, and therefore not share the number. Unfortunatly, many people would object (for good reasons), and with many of the prepaid gift cards from the major credit card companies the "keep it secret or get you cc number stolen" aspect would be lost.

I think that the username/password tied to an authenticating account would be the most trusting method, in the end.

RE: So, does anyone still think...
dkirker @ 3/6/2008 4:47:44 AM # Q
Also, to add to my "central account" idea, updating and adding new device would be pretty simple. And of course, purchasing discounts for multiple devices would be easier to handle.

As for Apple, I can''t really comment on them... (NDA. I did iPod QA work over the summer)

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Love em ...

NuShrike @ 3/4/2008 4:59:57 PM # Q
Talk about loving them and then leaving them. The only people that made out in black were the ones that sold PalmGear.

Too bad the combined group is now being dumped like a red-headed step-child. I hope those guys were able to move on like say to Apple's iPhone where they'll be better appreciated.

Palm III -> Sony NR610C -> Sony NR70 -> Sony NX80 -> Palm T|X -> HTC Kaiser

RE: Love em ...
PadOPaper @ 3/6/2008 2:17:14 AM # Q
Yeah you''re probably right and that''s too bad, cause they owed alot of small developers a lot of money that they basically strong armed them into taking pennies on the dollar for.

Who needs expensive gadgets, give me a pencil and some post-its. Added benefit, perfect handwriting recognition.
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So, what is their core business?

Patrick @ 3/4/2008 10:13:37 PM # Q
Hard to tell, actually.

RE: So, what is their core business?
TreoAnon @ 3/5/2008 12:43:58 AM # Q
There's a link available anyway to anyone who wants to read in in PalmInfoCenter's right column, that gives a lot of background information. Perhaps too much information!

The sum of the posts is that Motricity have been burning through money like it is 1999, and recently have been in a reverse takeover, which is why they are probably closing down Durham and dumping all those businesses and the Washington-based company is coming out on top.

All very ugly and nothing to do with the PalmOS software side of the business, which just looks like one of the many victims. Follow this link to hear more information:

http://tinyurl.com/2qozyw (moconews.net)

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