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'Chatting' Beta Tester Reunites Navy Buddies

Nov 05, 1998
Now the pair talks almost every night using Smith Micro's Internet CommSuite

ALISO VIEJO, CA - Howard Buckley was online late one night, testing the chat features of Smith Micro's new Internet CommSuiteTM when he unwittingly made a contact that led to the reunion of two long-lost Navy buddies.

Buckley, a Minnesota tool and die maker with a nightly Internet habit, was looking for a chat partner when he came across Dennis "D.L." Brown, a fellow cyber-citizen from Maryland. Brown had stumbled across Smith Micro's Internet CommSuite while he was surfing, downloaded a demo version and was trying it on for size.

Hitting the "audio" button on the TV-style remote control that forms the interface of the product, the two set up a voice connection for easier communication and audio-chatted for 90 minutes. At one point, Buckley mentioned that he lived in Cottage Grove, a town of roughly 30,000 that lies 25 miles south of Minneapolis.

"I was in the Navy with a guy from Cottage Grove named Wayne Kropelnicki," Brown told Buckley. "I haven't talked to him in years."

Buckley grabbed the phone book, located Brown's friend and instructed him to download Internet CommSuite so that Kropelnicki and Brown could communicate over their PCs without having to worry about long-distance phone charges. Since then, the pair has logged on nearly every night and meet in a private chat room to shoot the breeze, usually beginning with the greeting "What ya know, Bubba?" from the old days. It's been a real kick for both of them.

"I joined the Navy in 1975 when I was 17 years old, and when I reported to ship, Denny took me under his wing," Kropelnicki recalls. "If anybody knew the ropes in the Navy, it was this guy. If he wanted something, he knew where to get it and what he had to trade to get it. He was my best friend in the world for three or four years, but we lost touch a while back. Now I just log onto Internet CommSuite to talk to him, and I don't pay anything except for my flat-rate Internet connection."

Ironically, Kropelnicki had previously tried to use the Internet to locate his buddy a number of times in the last few years, but his searches had been fruitless. Brown had moved from the town where Kropelnicki had last talked to him, and search tools had yielded so many Dennis Browns around the country that it would have taken Kropelnicki years to find the right one.

The incident has produced a number of fringe benefits. Buckley and Kropelnicki, who live about five miles apart but had never met, have each gained a new friend. Buckley's positive experience with Internet CommSuite has inspired him to use the program's chat and whiteboard capabilities to discuss blueprints and drawings with customers. And every time Buckley goes online, he gets an extra thrill out of wondering whether lightning will strike twice.

"This was a complete fluke," Buckley says. "Dennis happened to be online at the same moment I was one night, he happened to have the time to chat, and he happened to know someone in Cottage Grove. It's unlikely that combination of coincidences will ever happen again, but the Internet is such a great people-finder that it's possible I'll get to play matchmaker again or accidentally locate one of my own friends. That's something to look forward to."

Smith Micro is a leading developer and marketer of software products that make person-to-person communications simple. With a focus on the Internet, broadband and modem-based technologies, the company designs integrated, easy-to-use software that enables fax, data, voice and video communication to personal computer users around the world. Headquartered in Aliso Viejo, California, the company markets its products worldwide through a network of OEMs and retail distributors. The company is publicly traded on the Nasdaq National Market under the symbol SMSI.

This release may contain forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Among the important factors which could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements are economic, competitive, governmental and technological factors effecting the company's operations, markets, products, services and prices, as well as, other factors detailed in the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission including its recent filings on Forms 10-K and 10-Q.

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