Bellevue-based Saflink, which develops software for biometric devices and smart cards, plans to announce a partnership today with...

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Bellevue-based Saflink, which develops software for biometric devices and smart cards, plans to announce a partnership today with Microsoft that would bring its computer-based software to handheld devices.




The software derives from Saflink’s application that is currently being used by the Department of Defense’s Common Access Card program that authorizes users’ computer access. The new software would allow access to be extended to mobile devices like Pocket PCs.




Also involved is Axcess Technology, which is supplying the smart card readers for mobile devices.




Currently, about 600,000 government employees are using the desktop version, said Brian Wilchusky, Saflink’s director of marketing.




“This is (Saflink’s) first foray into mobile solutions. It is our corporate commitment to get involved with this by leveraging our previous work.”



Cellphone makers



Investors uncertain about new products




Motorola, Sony Ericsson and other cellphone makers attending Asia’s biggest telecommunications show this week failed to convince investors, including Jarmo Nieminen, that their new products will drive an earnings rebound.




While Motorola, the world’s second-largest mobile phone maker, and Sony Ericsson, Europe’s No. 2, focused promotional spending on their latest handsets that can play music and video clips, executives said sales of cheaper handsets in emerging markets may set the pace for sales growth.




“Price erosion is a serious concern,” said Nieminen, a fund manager at Nordea in Helsinki, which manages $130 billion, including Nokia shares.




“As they enter China and other big markets, prices will further decline.”




India biotechnology




Industry leaders court U.S. investors




Now that software development, call centers and other outsourcing ventures have boosted India’s status in the world economy, Indian officials hope to pull off the same feat in biotechnology.




Several dozen Indian executives and government officials made that pitch to U.S. investors and scientists in advance of BIO2005, a major industry conference this week in Philadelphia.




Their message: India’s huge market and low manufacturing costs make it ideal for multinational drug and agriculture companies.




India’s biotech industry remains small, generating about $700 million in sales in 2004, mostly in generic drugs such as insulin and hepatitis B vaccines.




Kapil Sibal, India’s science minister, said the government plans to invest heavily in biotech, with grants and low-interest loans available for new startups.




India also will exempt research and development costs from taxes, he said.




Wireless Imaging




New wireless camera would save batteries




An inventor says he has come up with a better way to keep tabs on children, homes and other property: a wireless security camera that can go months without a change of batteries.




Similar security cameras either need to be plugged into a power outlet or run continuously on batteries that last less than a day.




The Mailbox Cam — at $199.95, more expensive than many security cameras — extends the life of its three AA batteries by letting users control the device remotely, turning it off and on at will. A built-in timer also ensures that the camera is not accidentally left on for extended periods.




Scott Jezierski, president of Wireless Imaging in Lino Lakes, Minn., got the idea for the MailboxCam after seeing his wife’s 88-year-old grandfather struggle to check his mailbox several times a day. Jezierski wanted a device that would monitor the mailbox and save the elderly man trips.




“I thought of using a wireless camera but their batteries would go dead in about a day,” Jezierski said. “I came up with this product and it saved him a whole bunch of trips to the box.”




Acer




PC manufacturer predicts sales surge




Acer, the world’s fifth-biggest seller of personal computers, said it expects sales to grow about 40 percent to 50 percent this year and next, predicting that it will gain market share from IBM.




The sale by IBM of its personal-computer unit to China’s Lenovo Group has created “turbulence” in the market, which may aid Acer’s expansion, Acer President Gianfranco Lanci said.




Some of IBM’s corporate clients have started to review their purchase plans after the Lenovo-IBM deal, Lanci said, declining to elaborate. Acer is investing in brand promotion and improving distribution networks to expand in the U.S. and China, and become one of the world’s top three PC sellers by 2007.



Ericsson



New music service to include downloads




Ericsson, the world’s largest maker of mobile-phone networks, will offer an online music service with Napster, according to the companies.




The service, which offers both music downloads and subscription services, will start in Europe over the next 12 months before being released to the rest of the world.




Phone makers are trying to shift users to so-called third-generation services that allow faster downloads of content such as music and video clips from the Internet to boost earnings. The announcement follows a tie-up between Motorola, the world’s second-biggest mobile phone maker, and Apple Computer, the creator of the iPod digital music player.




Motorola said on March 15 it will offer two phones this year that can download songs from Apple’s iTunes online music store.




Compiled from Seattle Times business staff, The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and MarketWatch