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Argogroup halves workforce as recession bites

Leading WAP company turns to OEMs

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One of the UK's leading WAP companies, Argogroup, has made its entire direct sales staff redundant as it switches to selling to OEMs to survive the recession and the still-limited demand for mobiles with data capabilities.

Argogroup produces middleware to improve the services that can be communicated between WAP phones and servers.

Forty staff in total, out of 80, have been laid off, the VP of Marketing Paul Nurger told us. This was due to the company decision to concentrate entirely on selling to OEMs, rather than telco operators or portals.

"We worked out it wasn't cost effective to sell to operators. Plus we think the economy is not as strong as it was a couple of months ago. If companies are downsizing then they are going to be looking to buy from fewer vendors, so we decided to concentrate on selling to OEMs."

Mr Nurger denied money was a factor in the decisions (Argogroup has received $30 million in two rounds of financing since its inception in 1996) and told us its investors asked it to talk to them if they needed more. He refused to rule out needing more money within the next six months however. The company can't foresee any further job cuts.

Argogroup is a high-profile WAP company, based in Surrey. It is a member of the WAP Forum, Bluetooth and the W3C. It is also signed up with Openwave's alliance program - Openwave are the people producing the software for the GSM Association's next-generation services, called M-Services.

Among Argogroup's customers are: FT.com, Openwave, Freeserve, Microsoft, Andersen Consulting, Ericsson and Lucent. ®

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