Stephen (“Woz”) Wozniak, Apple co-founder, has joined the board of directors of a Silicon Valley startup called Danger Inc. The company is creating a handheld Internet device.
Danger — founded in January 2000 by former Apple, WebTV and Philips execs, Andy Rubin, Joe Britt and Matt Hershenson — plans to launch its first Internet product, the US$200 “Hiptop” in early 2002. The handheld device, which is designed to compete with the Blackberry pager, will let users to check e-mail, surf the Net and store personal information.
“As a preeminent Silicon Valley figure, Woz brings a wealth of creative expertise and technical knowledge to Danger,” said Andy Rubin, CEO of Danger, Inc. “We are excited and honored to have him as part of our board of directors. We look forward to exchanging ideas and tapping into the invaluable knowledge he has gained over the years.”
Woz will advise the company in engineering and entrepreneurial matters. His position at Danger marks the first company board position he has taken in over four years.
“Danger embodies the excitement, enthusiasm and passion that innovative technology is capable of producing,” Woz said. “It reminds me of Apple’s early days and the focus on building products easy enough for anyone to use.”
Danger was founded to provide an integrated solution for wireless service operators consisting of a back-end service, a standards-based platform that uses programs written in Java and Hiptop hardware designs. The Hiptop is a “live” device that connects to wireless networks. Its features will also include a full-featured phone, personal information management (PIM), entertainment applications and a camera accessory.
The Hiptop marks a break in the evolution of mobile devices, according to Rubin, president and CEO of Danger. Many of today’s devices promise the wireless Internet but none deliver the full Internet and online experience in the mobile environment, he said.
“Personal organizers do a good job storing phone numbers and appointments but require expensive equipment and confusing configurations for an Internet connection,” Rubin said. “Cell phones are great for voice calls but users are restricted to less than one percent of the Internet and must use number keypads to interact with data. Two-way pagers have made important contributions such as the thumb keyboard but fall short on usability, attachments, graphics, sound and style. The Hiptop solves these shortcomings and delivers the entire Internet at your fingertips.”
Jim Forbes, industry analyst and producer of DEMOmobile , said that the industrial design of the Hiptop is certainly innovative; however, the fundamental differentiator allowing Danger to redefine the category is their back-end service that supports the device. This active state technology allows Danger to break the price barrier and deliver a “compelling consumer offering,” Forbes said. The service does the heavy computing and continually updates the user with new services and capabilities without the need for expensive new hardware, he added.
A Flash demonstration and photos of the Hiptop are available on the
Danger Web site. The company will exhibit at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas, Jan. 8-11.
Ironically, CES conflicts with
Macworld San Francisco 2002, which is scheduled for Jan. 7-11 at the Moscone Center. Also, we have no information yet on Mac compatibility (or lack thereof) with the Hiptop.
In October, Danger announced it has secured $36 million in second round financing from venture capital firms and strategic corporate investors. This latest round brings the company’s total funding to $48 million.
“This unique combination of investments from venture divisions of two of the world’s leading wireless carriers and top Silicon Valley venture capital firms provides Danger the operational and financial expertise to turn the mobile Internet into a reality for the consumer market,” said Rubin.