Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO - message board) has bought mobile software partner Orative for $31 million cash in a move that will allow the networking giant to extend its call-routing and mobile application capabilities for cell phones.
A privately-held company based in San Jose, Calif., Orative produces software designed to extend traditional enterprise PBX capabilities to mobile phones. Orative's software enables users to have corporate voicemail routed to their handsets, change their availability status, and use the phone to set up collaborative groups with other users.
Orative's software works with the Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) (Nasdaq: RIMM - message board; Toronto: RIM) BlackBerry and Symbian Ltd. operating systems and over Java-enabled handsets. The company has been a Cisco partner for nearly two years.
The move signals Cisco's intention to add new capabilities in order to outpace rival Avaya Inc. (NYSE: AV - message board) in the PBX market. Cisco currently leads in the market for IP phones, but Avaya ships more IP-PBXes. (See Avaya, Cisco Dominate VOIP.) Both firms are working to extend PBX call routing and control capabilities to mobile phones and build more fixed/mobile convergence (FMC) functionality into their systems. (See Avaya Styles Hybrid Phones and Cisco, Nokia Team on FMC.)
The need to add more mobile capabilities is driven by the fact that more and more enterprise communication takes place over the cell phone. Research firm IDC estimates that more than 60 million people in the U.S. now use their cell phone at work.
Other vendors working on similar mobile software include OnRelay Ltd. and Traverse Networks.