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Nokia, Samsung Invest In Swype To Improve Typing On Touchscreens
Monday, 14 December 2009 00:00

When a start-up gets funding from both Samsung and Nokia, that’s huge validation. Today, Seattle-based Swype is getting a healthy dose, after securing $5.6 million in a second round of funding from Nokia Growth Partners, Samsung Ventures and existing investor Benaroya Capital.

Swype had previously raised $1.7 million from friends, family and its management team, and spent the past seven years developing an easier way to type on a touchscreen keyboard—something that has become crucial as physical keyboards have disappeared. Samsung calls Swype’s technology “genius texting” and I compare it to waving your finger like a magic wand. So far, it has only shipped on one phone but with this money Swype will be ramping up to roll-out on several smartphones in the new year. This has included Windows Mobile and Android phones for some time, but now presumably Nokia is also interested since it’s an investor.

Mike McSherry, Swype’s CEO, confirmed that Swype is launching on a number of new devices and platforms: “The level of confidence shown by investors in our Series B, especially coming from two of the largest device manufacturers in the world and a returning investor, demonstrates the viability of our product and the known added value it can bring to mobile devices.”

Swype’s technology is designed to make touchscreens more accurate, by allowing people to drag their fingertip from letter to letter, instead of trying to accurately tap each key. The software intelligently decides what word you are typing based on where your finger pauses or changes direction. It has launched on the Samsung Omnia II, a Windows Mobile device, but it’s also designed for tablets, game consoles, TVs and GPS units. For Swype to become a runaway success, it will have to be on many different platforms and become nearly ubiquitous. Compare it to Tegic’s T9 technology, which has changed hands from AOL (NYSE: AOL) to Nuance Communications most recently, and ships on just about every mobile phone today.

Brian Kang, Managing Director at Samsung Ventures America, said in a release: “We believe that Swype is playing a leadership role in the evolution of mobile user interfaces and is providing an exciting breakthrough technology that can be implemented in a variety of ways.”

 

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