Mon, Feb 09, 2009 - Page 11 News List

INTERVIEW: DeviceVM relishes low-key spot

BOOTING-UP: Mark Lee said his firm hopes technological convergence will lead to its software dominating its platform the way Microsoft has done with Windows OS

By Elizabeth Tchii  /  STAFF REPORTER

DeviceVM chief executive officer and president Mark Lee smiles during an interview with the Taipei Times on Jan. 16.


You may not know the software company DeviceVM Inc (達維飛碼), based in San Jose, California, but you could be familiar with its product, which is used by several computer vendors.

Asustek Computer Inc (華碩) labels DeviceVM’s “instant-on” technology as “Express Gate” on its laptops, which allows the computers to boot-up in a few seconds.

Lenovo Group Ltd (聯想) calls its notebooks’ quick-boot function “Quick Start,” while Hewlett-Packard Co says its printers can produce faster printouts with zero warm-up time, thanks to this time-saving operating system platform.

Founded in 2006 by a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduates, with offices in Taipei, Shanghai, Hangzhou and San Jose, DeviceVM has strong roots in Taiwan.

The software startup received its initial funding from major Taiwanese technology industry heavyweights such as Asustek, Acer Inc (宏碁), Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) and HTC Corp (宏達電) and essentially rode on the netbook boom. Its “instant-on” technology is sold pre-installed on personal computers made by global vendors.

Prior to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last month, DeviceVM stayed largely out of the public eye while reaping a steady stream of revenue every time a computer is purchased.

“We focused on marketing synergy,” Mark Lee (李明勳), DeviceVM’s chief executive officer, said of the start-up’s strategy to cobrand with various PC makers rather than to promote the “instant-on” technology under its Splashtop brand.

“We didn’t insist on showcasing our brand because we understand the need for PC vendors to strengthen theirs and create customized solutions for their discerning clients. But if you look closely, you’ll see the words ‘powered by Splashtop’ when our pre-OS platform opens up. We have insisted on this branding guideline with every manufacturer we work with,” Lee said in an interview with the Taipei Times on Jan. 16.

“Cooptition” is how Lee terms DeviceVM’s relationship with PC vendors — a combination of “collaboration” and “competition.”

He sees computer makers as business partners, yet recognizes the fact that these partners can turn into competitors at anytime and introduce their own versions of quick-boot capabilities.

Lee said there was no way of knowing where rivals will pop up until a product actually rolls out. He said he was somewhat relieved by the cost-cutting underway at every major tech company around the world because the chances that companies would spend R&D money to develop proprietary “instant-on” technology appears unlikely right now.

Instead of waiting for competitors to surface, however, DeviceVM is mapping out a global presence. By opening up its Splashtop platform to developers worldwide, it hopes to gain a wide array of different usage models and attract even more end users.

Lee said DeviceVM hoped to develop a strong and irreplaceable ecosystem of Splashtop users and strengthen its platform dominance the way Microsoft did with Windows OS.

Lee envisions Splashtop being deployed in other hardware devices through “convergence” — the inter-linkage between computing and IT, media content and communication networks that has risen because of the Internet’s explosion in popularity.

“At CES, Intel and Yahoo announced a partnership to bring Web content to televisions; this is a perfect example of convergence. Intel is leveraging on its success in building central processing units [CPUs] for PCs into the TV industry, just like it did recently with the introduction of Atom processors to reach into ultra mobile devices,” Lee said.

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