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Antenna Software Acquires Dexterra

Antenna expects the buy to give it more leverage in the mobile middleware market, which is expected to grow at a healthy clip as more businesses add mobile device support.

Antenna Software announced Monday that it had acquired Dexterra, creating a 200-employee provider of mobile middleware.

Antenna expects the acquisition to give it more leverage in the mobile middleware market, which is expected to grow at a healthy clip as more businesses look to add mobile device support for employees. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Both Antenna and Dexterra offer technologies and systems that let users of BlackBerry, iPhone, Windows Mobile smartphones, Palm handsets, and other devices link into their companies' business systems. Customers use their development kits to write mobile applications, and their middleware to synchronize and route data between mobile apps and back-end systems such as financial, CRM, and supply chain applications.

For example, Antenna customer Coca-Cola Enterprises, one of Coke's largest distributors, is rolling out a timekeeping and routing application that 11,000 merchandisers access from BlackBerrys and potentially other mobile devices. Antenna provided a hosted environment for about 12 developers at Coca-Cola Enterprises to build the merchandiser app, and Antenna's middleware syncs data that merchandisers enter offline with back-end systems once connectivity is available.

Other Antenna customers include Wal-Mart, Pitney Bowes, and Xerox. Dexterra's customers include ADP, Ikon Office Solutions, and Virgin Media. Typical end users are field reps and technicians, but mobile middleware may become attractive to companies looking to give other types of employees access to business systems from their mobile devices. Two-thirds of companies are deploying or planning to deploy mobile applications to employees, according to an InformationWeek Analytics survey of 412 business technology professionals conducted in March.

IDC, in a January report, predicted the mobile middleware market would grow from $775 million in 2007 to $1.6 billion in 2012, representing a compound annual growth rate of 15.2%. The largest player in the market is Sybase with its iAnywhere software.

Dexterra and its channel resellers support and service more than 100 large companies. By acquiring Dexterra, Antenna said it'll gain a stronger global presence and established reseller channels to help it grow in what it calls a "highly competitive market." Both companies are privately held, and details of the acquisition were not disclosed. Last year, Antenna acquired the assets of another mobile middleware vendor called Vettro.

"We're bringing together two companies that share a similar vision of what the market really wanted: a mobile platform focused on delivering mobile applications across the enterprise," Antenna CEO Jim Hemmer said in an interview Monday about the Dexterra acquisition. "We've had admiration for them. They stood out in a rather crowded market with a similar view [to ours]."

Hemmer said Antenna plans to support all of Dexterra's technologies and products, even though some compete with Antenna's offerings. "Choice is a good thing right now," he said. But there are some distinct differences between the companies. For example, Antenna has focused on a hosted model, while Dexterra makes software designed for on-premises implementations. "We think the market [wants] broad-based capabilities to address multiple platforms and carriers," he said.

Hemmer said in coming months, Antenna will develop more applications designed for vertical markets and continue to expand support for different types of devices. Earlier this year it announced support for the iPhone. Antenna is in the early stages of evaluating the Palm Pre, but "hasn't seen any real demand coming from the enterprise." That could change, Hemmer said, noting that Antenna has historically supported Palm products.

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