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3/20/2006
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Red Bend To Upgrade Sharp 3G Phones

This function will let Vodafone 904SH customers get the latest features without having to visit a service facility.

HOD HASHARON, Israel — Sharp Corp. will use Red Bend Software’s mobile software management technology and its firmware over the air (FOTA) update client suite to allow customers to wirelessly download software upgrades to the Vodafone 904SH handset offered by Vodafone KK in Japan. This function will let Vodafone 904SH customers upgrade their phones without visiting a service facility.

Red Bend's vCurrent mobile FOTA client suite is pre-installed on the Vodafone 904SH, a new 3G handset from Sharp. The handset is expected to be available in April.

Soon, Red Bend will demonstrate a prototype of its Embedded Feature Delivery (EFD). This technology allows low- and mid-range mobile phones, as well as smart phones, to be quickly and easily enhanced with new or upgraded core functions.

While today’s users can update a portion of their phone’s user interface and add small applets, such as Java games, to their phones, EFD makes it possible to add or update core handset functionality. For example, EFD could be used to improve a phone’s browser, add a messaging client or support for a new language, and install a new media codec.

Users of FOTA technology include BenQ-Siemens, LG Electronics, Sharp, Sony Ericsson and other large handset makers. Its customers account for more than half of the global mobile handset market. Founded in 1999, the Israeli startup is backed by Israeli VC funds Carmel Ventures, Pitango Venture Capital, Poalim Ventures and Infinity, and San Mateo, Calif.-based Greylock Partners. (Greylock has invested in seven other Israeli startups.)

FOTA technology potentially opens up a wider base of handsets for customization, including those lower-spec units that form the mass market.

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