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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

What Tricks Does Fidelity Anywhere Have Up its Sleeves?

Reported by Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief

Financial services firms are not keeping up with cutting edge wireless technology, and that is a failing that executives at Fidelity Investments are continuing to exploit. One problem they face, though, is which competitor to benchmark against when they are the market leader?

The answer Joseph Ferra, Fidelity's chief wireless officer, provided to attendees at the Mobile & Wireless World conference in Orlando, is to benchmark against leaders in providing Web-based services, including eBay and Amazon. Ferra's comments were reported in ComputerWorld magazine.

Fidelity made a splash in 1998 when it loudly jumped into the wireless game. Rivals may even remember some hints that Fidelity clients would be able to access their account information through car dashboard devices. Well, not all of the late 1990s ideas have come to pass, but Fidelity is continuing to move forward with a vision that workers now refer to as "Fidelity Anywhere." Up to one million Fidelity customers now use the tools developed under the rubric.

The latest project for the Fidelity Anywhere group is to create versions of its Web site and services for Apple's soon-to-launch iPhone that is due next month. The effort fits into an ongoing project to identify the devices on which users visit the Fidelity Web sites. Device traits include screen size, resolution and the number of keys on the device.

Ferra hinted that Fidelity is also in the loop on not-yet-released technology. Later this summer, for example, Verizon is planning to bring out a rival to the iPhone, which will be exclusively offered through AT&T/Cingular. Ferra showed conference attendees a picture of a long slim and black device with blurred logos that he said was "probably" what will come from Verizon.

What else is Fidelity working on? Ferra told attendees that the Boston Behemoth would like to see more multimedia capabilities. Those devices, he confided, could be used to send investors daily market recaps from Fidelity analysts. 

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