America Online, the world’s largest Internet provider, has purchased a privately held wireless technology company as part of its initiative to more quickly get AOL service onto phones and other wireless devices, the company plans to announce Monday.
It purchased Wildseed Ltd., a privately held company founded by Microsoft Corp. veteran G. Eric Engstrom, who co-invented Microsoft’s DirectX multimedia and games technology. (MSNBC is a Microsoft-NBC joint venture.)
Financial terms were not disclosed.
The deal marks the second purchase in as many weeks to find ways to expand its services ahead of the official launch of AOL.com, which will offer more of its services for free.
Last week, AOL purchased online storage company Xdrive for an undisclosed sum.
Wildseed made headlines over the last three years selling a phone marketed to teens, which let them snap on changeable faceplates that also offered new features. A baseball faceplate of a favorite team would offer game schedules for instance.
AOL, whose AOL Instant Messenger software is offered on top U.S. wireless carriers and also built into phones, has begun to expand its influence beyond the desktop computer, where it has watched millions of users flee its paid service over the past few years.
In the second quarter, it lost 917,000 paying subscribers.
The company was particularly attracted to Wildseed’s software, which controls the look and feel on the phone’s screen.
While AOL does not intend to create phone operating systems with Wildseed technology, it does hopes to create new applications, such as one to quickly access AOL’s music service on wireless devices, Craig Eisler, senior vice president, AOL Wireless said in an interview.
“We can reuse the technology to improve the AOL experience,” Eisler said.