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Motorola goes with USB On-the-Go

TransDimension licenses its technology to the chipmaker, expanding the reach of the emerging connectivity specification in the cell phone and handheld markets.

Emerging connectivity technology USB On-the-Go is gradually becoming the de facto wired standard, gaining more momentum from a licensing deal with chipmaker Motorola.

More than 1.3 billion devices in the market have ports for USB, which became a widely used connectivity technology when Intel integrated it into its chipsets in 1998. TransDimension is looking to make USB On-the-Go as prevalent in mobile devices as USB is in PCs and PC peripherals by striking licensing deals with manufacturers whose chipsets are used in portable devices.

TransDimension's latest partner is Motorola, which signed a licensing deal Tuesday. Irvine, Calif.-based TransDimension has also signed Qualcomm and ATI to deals as well. Clie handheld maker Sony Electronics signed a deal with USB On-the-Go chip maker Philips Semiconductor in late January.

The deal with Motorola is "fairly broad," said David Murray, a vice president of marketing at TransDimension. Murray declined to say how long or how much the deal was worth, but did say the first devices from Motorola to have built-in USB On-the-Go technology would appear in the fourth quarter this year or first quarter next year.

USB On-the-Go is a supplement and compatible with the USB 2.0 specification and allows portable devices to connect to PCs and PC peripherals with USB ports. Portable devices with USB On-the-Go technology can transfer data directly to a peripheral without first having to connect to a PC.

USB On-the-Go has been in development for some time, but it has attracted interest from manufacturers as developers such as TransDimension, Philips and Texas Instruments finish writing drivers that smooth the means of communications between portable devices.

"All the building blocks are getting into place for wide adoption of USB On-the-Go," said Murray.

Other technologies, such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, are formidable competitors and have the added benefit of being wireless, but USB On-the-Go uses less power, is less expensive for developers and is currently more widely used than its rivals.