Discover Brokerage, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's online discount brokerage arm, has teamed up with Owings Mills, Md.-based Aether Technologies to launch TradeRunner--a wireless trading application targeted at individual investors. TradeRunner, which was made available to Discover's full stable of roughly 160,000 retail clients last Monday, is being targeted at mobile investors who need an ergonomic real-time trading and portfolio management tool. Currently, TradeRunner runs on a pair of hardware platforms: 3Com's Palm III and IIIX palm pilots.
Via TradeRunner, investors can trade equities, mutual funds and options, access real-time quotes and receive real-time business news. The system, which has yet to be installed in support of any of Discover's client, also features market alerts and intraday and historical charting capabilities.
Tom O'Connell, president and chief operating officer of Discover Brokerage, says that since TradeRunner's launch, the firm has received roughly 100 inquiries per day about the product. While declining to specify how many investors have actually signed up to use the software, O'Connell says he expects that "more than half" of TradeRunner's clientele will consist of non-Discover investors. The firm hopes that those investors will sign on for TradeRunner while simultaneously opening an account with Discover.
O'Connell declines to specify which other wireless trading suppliers Discover evaluated, but says that Aether's relationship with 3Com and "open architecture" helped put the vendor over the top. "We're not interested in getting involved in a proprietary closed system, whether it's from w-Trade Technologies or...whomever," he says. O'Connell adds that Discover's deal with Aether is not exclusive--meaning the broker is free to sign agreements with other wireless suppliers that pop up in the market.
Eventually, Discover and Aether plan to make TradeRunner compatible with both Windows CE-based handheld devices and Palm V--3Com's latest incarnation of its palm pilot. O'Connell says that the only reason Discover has not yet made TradeRunner available over Palm V is because 3Com has yet to release the wireless modem component for that device.
Discover is eagerly awaiting for 3Com to do that, O'Connell says, because the firm expects there to be a significant increase in TradeRunner requests once its available over Palm V. He adds that since there is currently not a lot of demand for Windows CE-based handhelds, Discover will wait until demand goes up to release TradeRunner on those devices.