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TI to plunk down $100 million for wireless software

Texas Instruments plans to invest $100 million to get software developers writing wireless Internet software for OMAP, its blueprint for next-generation cell phones and gadgets.

Who wants to be an OMAP millionaire?

Texas Instruments on Thursday announced plans to invest $100 million in software developers writing wireless Internet software for its Open Multimedia Applications Platform (OMAP) over the next 12 to 18 months. OMAP is essentially a blueprint--based on TI's digital signal processors (DSPs) and other silicon--for building next-generation cell phones and other wireless devices that will access the Internet.

The ecosystem for the wireless Internet will be created over the next few years, and TI wants to ensure it enjoys a prominent place in it. By seeding the market for OMAP-friendly applications, TI will, the theory goes, have an easier time persuading cell phone manufacturers, among others, to adopt its chips.

The program is "wide open," James Wainerdi, TI's OMAP marketing manager, said. "We want to stimulate software development communities to architect...using (OMAP) DSP technology."

Several potential areas of focus for developers include mobile commerce, multimedia, messaging, encryption and interactive gaming. "We don't know what the applications are going to be. I think the only limit is going to be the imagination," Wainerdi said.

To start the ball rolling, developers must submit an executive summary, including product details and target markets. TI's OMAP Developer Network Web site offers more details.

TI, which made the announcement at the 3GSM World Congress in France, will get a stake in companies it invests in and access to their technology.