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Consultancy aims for wireless bang with iPlanet deal

Trying to further its push into the booming wireless market, Lante announces a deal with iPlanet, the alliance between Sun Microsystems and Netscape Communications.

Trying to further its push into the booming wireless market, Internet consulting company Lante today announced a deal with iPlanet, the alliance between Sun Microsystems and Netscape Communications.

As earlier reported, Lante is using the deal to help its clients develop their wireless strategies. The new initiative, which is an extension of Lante's existing partnership with Sun, is focused on improving content presentation and retrieval via handheld devices.

The two companies will work together to develop new applications centered on the iPlanet Wireless Server, software that gives people access to email, calendars and address books from cellular phones and other handheld devices. iPlanet shipped the new product earlier this year.

While Lante provides clients with help on Web development, strategy, systems integration and design--just as its competitors Scient, Razorfish, iXL Enterprises and Proxicom do--the Chicago-based company places an emphasis on developing online marketplaces and trading exchanges for its clients.

As more of a focus is being placed on the delivery of content over handheld devices, Lante has aimed to meet the demand by adding services to help clients with wireless planning and other options. Competitors such as Razorfish, Sapient and MarchFirst have already started offering services for customers in the United States and Europe.

Some analysts say businesses are moving slowly to hire consulting companies to flesh out wireless strategies, but they expect a boom fueled by the fast-growing number of handheld device users.

According to market research company The Yankee Group, there will be more than 1 billion mobile phone owners by 2003, and about 60 percent of those phones will be Internet-ready.

Bill Martorelli, an analyst at Hurwitz Group, said the industry will see more Internet consulting companies join forces with infrastructure providers like iPlanet to get a better handle on how to help clients implement wireless-based applications.

"There's no question that the evaluation and anticipation of the deployment of wireless technology is very big," Martorelli said. "Despite that it's more prevalent in the consumer space, the use of these technologies with really mission-critical business applications, which is lacking tremendously, gives system integrators an opportunity to help bridge that gap."

In conjunction with the iPlanet initiative, Lante said it has begun a company-wide training program for its consultants on wireless technologies. The company said it has already worked on wireless projects for clients such as AT&T, Motorola, Microsoft and 3Com.