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Excite@Home launches portable portal

The company launches a version of the Excite Web portal for mobile phones and handheld devices, making it the latest Internet company to target wireless customers.

    Excite@Home today launched a version of the Excite Web portal for mobile phones and handheld devices, making it the latest Internet company to target wireless customers.

    Excite Mobile offers email, news and other information to most U.S. wireless customers with Internet-capable cellular phones. The service will allow people to send and receive email; access their online address book, calendar and to-do list information; and view driving directions and other Internet content.

    Until recently, Excite@Home was known primarily for offering high-speed cable modem service. But the introduction of Excite Mobile makes the company the latest entrant in an increasingly crowded market.

    Microsoft unveiled an updated version of its wireless portal, MSN Mobile 2.0, in February, and America Online and Yahoo also are developing wireless strategies. In addition, online retailer Amazon.com plans to sell products to mobile customers.

    According to market research firm Yankee Group, there will be more than 1 billion mobile phone users by 2003, with about 60 percent capable of using wireless Internet access.

    Excite@Home's wireless portal has been in development for some time. The company earlier joined the WAP Forum, a wireless standards group, and signed a deal with Vodafone for wireless content overseas.

    Excite Mobile will be highly personalized and customizable, which executives believe is a key to success in the wireless market, where the display screens on wireless handsets are tiny and therefore difficult for inputting information.

    Communications start-up AirFlash provides Excite with many of its location-based information services.