E*Trade customers to use Aether device

Wireless link to stock market would fit in pocket

January 17, 2001|By Stacey Hirsh | Stacey Hirsh,SUN STAFF

Aether Systems Inc., a provider of wireless products and services, is expected to announce today a deal with E*Trade Group Inc. that will allow consumers to check stock prices, follow news, access their E*Trade accounts and trade stocks using a wireless device small enough to fit in their back pocket.

"They're completely connected to the market, market trends, news as well as their E*Trade account," said John Shepley, vice president of Aether's financial services division.

Aether, based in Owings Mills, sells software and services that allow business users to access data - ranging from e-mail to customer information - while they're away from the office.

Shepley said that, through the deal being announced today, E*Trade customers will also be able to program their wireless devices - called BlackBerry - to alert them when a stock reaches a certain price or when news stories on specific topics are released. The BlackBerry device also comes equipped with e-mail.

"The user can browse in and look up news stories that are out on the news wires, and they can also set news alerts," Shepley said.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Aether will provide customers with the wireless device, which is about the size of a hand-held calculator, as well as the application for the services and technical support.

Customers will make monthly payments based on which services they receive. The customers will also have to pay for the device. The cost was not available from Aether yesterday.

Jason Tsai, a wireless analyst that covers Aether for C. E. Unterberg, Towbin in San Francisco, said the deal shows the company is gaining traction in the wireless market. But what investors are looking for are the dollars generated from deals like this.

"It is a big positive for Aether," Tsai said. "But I think a lot of investors are waiting on the sidelines ... to get actual quantification of these deals that everyone keeps announcing."

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