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i3 Mobile jumps 56 percent in debut

i3 Mobile (Nasdaq: IIIM) moved up 9, or 56 percent, to 25 in its initial public offering Thursday.

The company upped the number of shares on offer from an original 4.4 million.

i3 delivers information like stock quotes, news, weather and traffic to wireless devices such as cell phones, personal digital assistants and pagers on a subscription basis. The company has also started offering e-commerce, e-mail and personal information management applications. Though the wireless sector has proven hot, particularly on the IPO front, i3 is in the nascent market for wireless content.

The stock's performance depends on whether it gets valued as a content compzny, or a pure wireless stock, said Kenan Pollack of IPO Central. He compared the deal to 724 Solutions (Nasdaq: SVNX), which has gained over 400 percent since its debut earlier this year.

Like most company's going public, i3's net losses overshadow revenue. For the year ended December 31, loss was $10.3 million on revenue of $1.7 million, as opposed to a loss of $2.9 million on revenue of $1.4 million in 1998.

The company targets users by striking distribution agreements with various network providers. It currently has 15 such contracts, including AT&T Wireless and Vodafone AirTouch, giving it access about 55 percent of the wireless market.

Competition in the sector is intense, speaking to the increasing view that wireless content delivery is the next big thing. Other players include Aether Systems (Nasdaq: AETH), (AMEX: DLK), (Nasdaq: INSP) and (Nasdaq: PHCM).

Former ESPN president Bill Grimes' buy-out firm BG Media Investors owns 28 percent of the company.

Deutsche Banc Alex Brown is the lead underwriter, CS First Boston is co-manager.