Aether Technologies International LLC, a 2-year-old wireless data communications firm based in Owings Mills, announced yesterday that it has teamed up with one of the world's biggest news organizations to beam up-to-the-second stock information to customers' hand-held computers.
Together with New York-based Reuters America Inc., Aether introduced a product called MarketClip, a system that will send prices, charts, alerts, news headlines and other information to customers who have either a 3Com Palm Pilot or a Hewlett-Packard 360 LX computer.
Both devices are slightly larger than a portable cassette player.
Using a keyboard or a screen pen, a customer requests customized stock information. Industry analysts who have tested MarketClip said they were generally impressed.
"I think it's definitely a step in the right direction as far as combining wireless technology and financial data," said Michael Gazala, an analyst for Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. "It's easy to use, it's intuitive, it's fast."
But it's not cheap -- at least, not by the standards of casual market watchers. Unlimited access to MarketClip costs $115 a month, not including the hand-held device. A Palm Pilot costs about $850, while the 360 LX will set you back $1,400.
Aether officials are quick to point out that MarketClip isn't really being pitched to most market watchers.
The target audience is not the typical shareholder who may make a trade every few months but, rather, the daily trader for whom a brief rise or fall in a stock can mean thousands of dollars.
"Nobody's blinking at the prices we're putting out," said Aether President and Chief Executive Officer Dave Oros.
However, some observers are blinking -- or at least raising their eyebrows -- at one MarketClip drawback.
While it can fetch all manner of information, MarketClip can't be used to make trades. Gazala said this could be a problem for the gotta-do-it-now crowd that makes up MarketClip's desired demographic.
"The first thing they need to do is enable trading," Gazala said. "You want the information so that you can do something with it."
Yet, analysts applauded MarketClip for making stock information available on devices that can also be used for other things, such as record-keeping and Internet access.
Past market-information systems have often employed devices that had no other capabilities.
"A lot of times, you've had to throw a device away and get a new one when a new system came along," said John Robb, an analyst for Gomez Advisors Inc. in Boston. "This works on existing equipment."
Pub Date: 2/25/98