There's only one problem: There may be no market for its products.
Today, Navio announced that Tektronix, a maker of "dumb" terminals, will license Navio's browser for use with the Tektronix Netstation. The deal follows a series of other partnerships with network computer and television set-top box manufacturers, including IBM, Sun Microsystems, Zenith, and HDS Network Systems.
Still, in spite of its early success in winning hardware converts, Navio is trying to capture browser market share in a market that hasn't materialized yet.
Many analysts believe that the company will become a key provider of software for such devices as cellular phones, NCs, and video game machines, but they are more skeptical of how valuable that leadership will be.
"They can end up the leader in this market, but there's no market," said John Robb, a senior analyst with Forrester Research. "There's lots of talk, lots of announcements, but nothing much is being deployed or bought. It's going to take a while for non-PC devices to take off."
Navio's charter is to translate Netscape's popular Navigator browser for Macintosh, PC, and Unix into versions that will work on an array of Net access devices for consumers and businesses. Although Netscape holds a majority stake in the company, IBM, NEC, Sega, Nintendo, Sony, and Oracle also are backing Navio.
The company has access to all of Netscape's client technology, including its forthcoming Communicator browser, email, and collaboration software. Navio will also be able to do versions of Constellation, a feature of Communicator that makes it easier for users to manage their files and use the Internet regardless of the computer they are using, according to Adam Stock, director of marketing at Navio.
Although products that use the Navio browser haven't shipped yet, they will being showing up early this year. Tektronix said it will ship the Navio browser as a $75 option for its Netstation terminals in the first quarter of this year. According to officials at that company, the browser gives its customers a simple way to use the Internet and intranets from their dumb terminals.
"People who have been using our station have been asking for this capability," said Shell Haffner, product marketing manager. "HTML has become a data type in corporate environments, so we've added that to our Netstations."
For now, the competition for Navio is not nearly as fierce as it is in the PC market. With the exception of its Windows CE handheld device, Microsoft is focused almost exclusively on the PC browser market. Another competitor, Spyglass, has a toehold in the market for non-PC browsers, but Navio may be able to eclipse the company with its better-known brand.
"We don't see either of those as serious threats," Navio's Stock said. "But you can never underestimate Microsoft. The issues come down to making your tech great quality. As far as Microsoft is concerned, their Windows CE [browser] is really PDA-oriented."