GEOWORKS UNVEILS STRATEGY FOR ADVERTISING-SPONSORED WIRELESS INFORMATION SERVICES
Research Confirms Benefits of Offering Free Information Services to Subscribers
ALAMEDA, Calif. (Dec. 7, 1998) - Geoworks Corporation (NASDAQ: GWRX), a leading provider of wireless software and service solutions, announced today that it has developed a way for carriers to integrate advertising and sponsorship into Geoworks' Premion Information Services. This provides an opportunity for operators to differentiate themselves from their competitors by offering free advertising-supported information services to their customers.
With the advent of graphical displays and the ability to receive data messages, wireless handsets are a compelling new medium for the delivery of information services and advertising. These handsets, such as those enabled by Symbian's EPOC platform or Geoworks' own WAP-based Premion Interface+, are ideal platforms for delivering advertising and services, which can increase branding and loyalty programs. Premion Interface+ is a graphical application environment designed to increase the ease-of-use and functionality of everyday wireless phones, while Symbian provides operating system software for high-end smart phones.
"Geoworks' efforts to establish an innovative model for content delivery to wireless information devices, based around industry standards such as WAP, puts in place another important piece of the wireless puzzle," said Juha Christensen, Executive Vice President, Marketing and Sales at Symbian. "We are working closely with Geoworks, device manufacturers, and wireless carriers to ensure that information services and targeted advertising finds its way to a wide variety of current and future wireless information devices."
"The key question in deploying wireless information services has always been who will pay for them," said Dave Grannan, vice president of marketing at Geoworks. "The challenge for carriers has been that although consumers find these services valuable, they are do not want to increase the amount they already pay for their monthly wireless phone bills. So, by enabling advertising-supported services, we have created a win-win situation for everyone involved."
Geoworks developed its advertising strategy after working with a national market research company to determine consumer acceptance of advertising in information services. Geoworks has prepared a comprehensive report detailing the results of this research, citing qualitative and quantitative data, which the company is sharing with key partners as they develop and deploy wireless information services.
The research, conducted in the United States and the United Kingdom, revealed that the overwhelming majority of respondents said that they found embedded sponsorships and promotions in information services very acceptable. The research also revealed that if services were offered for free but included advertising, consumers would be much more likely to subscribe to the services than if they were offered without ads but with a subscription fee. Additionally, the research identified which services consumers find most appealing. When asked to examine and test a wide range of potential services, most consumers chose practical, everyday services. These services can easily incorporate promotional and branding opportunities for sponsors.
"The people in our research definitely liked the idea of meaningful information services," continued Geoworks' Grannan. "Almost every participant saw the value in having easily accessible, up-to-the-minute information that they could use in their everyday lives. We found that the embedded advertising was overwhelmingly accepted and tends to lead to higher take rates, compared to a subscription-based model."
A portfolio of wireless information services could include traditional news, weather reports or stock quotes, as well as innovative services such as a reminder service that allows consumers to be automatically notified about important dates or appointments.
"Wireless information services provide an exciting new venue for advertisers," said David Thatcher, Geoworks' CEO and president. "By offering these sponsored services to their customers, carriers will be able to lower prices of the services, and potentially offer them for free as a way to differentiate themselves from their competitors. With the ability to display logos and other promotions, the wireless handset market for advertising is poised to become as successful as web-based advertising."
Like the Internet, advertising on wireless devices enables advertisers to have one-on-one contact with consumers, target specific segments and create direct marketing relationships. Because wireless telephones are a constant companion to many users, they offer an opportunity for an increased number of visual impressions. The phone is also an ideal medium for direct marketing, since any sponsorship message or advertisement can encourage an immediate one-button response to a call center for fulfillment of purchase.
Based in Alameda, Calif., with international operations in the United Kingdom and Japan, Geoworks Corporation is a leading provider of end-to-end software solutions for the wireless communications industry. The Company creates operating system software, applications and actionable services for a variety of wireless devices, ranging from enhanced phones to high-end, all-in-one smart communicators. For additional information on Geoworks, contact the Company on the World Wide Web at http://www.geoworks.com.
In keeping with U.S. law, Geoworks notes that this press release includes forward-looking statements, including Geoworks' development and delivery of sponsor-based wireless information services, the ability of operators to provide such services at low cost or free of charge to their subscribers, and the acceptance and success of advertising in the wireless market. Actual results may vary significantly due to various risks and uncertainties. Those include, but are not limited to, the risk that new technologies and strategies are inherently subject to development, timing and consumer acceptance risks and the Company must consummate definitive agreements with key partners. Additional information is available in the Risk Factors and Business discussions in the Company's Forms 10-K, 10-Q and other filings available from the Company or from the Securities and Exchange Commission.