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Smith Micro and Sprint Add More STEAM to Education with Avatar Design Contest

Jul 29, 2014
Sprint Visual Voicemail service to provide nationwide platform for showcasing student-designed animations

ALISO VIEJO, CA – July 29, 2014 – Smith Micro Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: SMSI) has teamed with Sprint (NYSE: S) to offer a new education program and contest designed to cultivate the next generation of digital artists.  Later this year, Sprint is expecting to enhance Sprint Visual Voicemail service by adding avatars from Smith Micro as a new feature.  Through the program, called the Avatar Challenge, students will use Smith Micro’s animation software to create avatar characters with the chance to have their creations viewed and used by millions through Sprint Visual Voicemail.  Targeted to educators and students in secondary schools and higher education, the Avatar Challenge complements the latest STEAM1 learning programs through the integration of art and technology.

Avatar Challenge Overview

From August 1 through October 31, 2014, educators from any accredited secondary school, college or trade school will be able to register for free copies of Smith Micro’s award-winning Anime Studio® animation software for themselves and their students.  Smith Micro will offer video tutorials and sample teaching guides to incorporate the software into the class curriculum.  Students can use the software for general animation – creating anything from class presentations to comic books to music videos. Students also have the opportunity to enter a nationwide contest designing animated characters for the upcoming avatar feature in Sprint Visual Voicemail. Winning students will have their characters featured within the app as the “Sprint Avatar of the Month.”

“Creativity is the root of innovation, and we strive to innovate in everything we do,” said Wayne Ward, vice president-business and product development at Sprint. “Working with Smith Micro to showcase the artistic and technical talents of young people will make our new avatar feature within Sprint Visual Voicemail even more exciting.  We can’t wait to see the creative characters these students come up with.”

“We have a worldwide community of digital artists using our top-tier animation products, including designers for Disney, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Rooster Teeth, and major retail brands,” said William W. Smith, Jr., CEO at Smith Micro.  “By learning to use Anime Studio, students will quickly find that marrying art and technology can be very rewarding, and the Sprint avatar feature provides an amazing, nationwide platform to showcase their designs.  Everybody wins with this program.”

Program Details

Smith Micro and Sprint are offering several benefits to participants of the Avatar Challenge program:

  • Eligible teachers will receive one free license to download Anime Studio Pro 10 for their own use (valued at $299.99), and up to 15 free licenses to download Anime Studio Debut (valued at $49.99 each) for student use
  • Free step-by-step video tutorials for Anime Studio available online
  • Teachers can purchase the Anime Studio Curriculum Guide at a discount
  • Beginning October 1, students can submit animated characters to enter the “Sprint Avatar of the Month” contest
  • The top 10 qualifying designs will earn a free copy of Smith Micro’s Artist Bundle Debut software pack
  • Sprint and Smith Micro will select a winning design each month to be featured on the main screen of the Sprint Avatar service for 30 days
  • Student winners will receive a $2,000 scholarship from Smith Micro, as well as professional versions of Anime Studio, Poser, Manga Studio and Motion Artist animation tools (valued at $1,099.96).
  • Winning designs will remain available in a special “Sprint Avatar Winner’s Circle” of the Avatar content library, viewable by millions of Sprint customers using Sprint Visual Voicemail on their Android devices, and shareable with anyone via mobile messaging, email or Facebook 

For a sample list of quotes from participants in education supporting the Avatar Challenge program, see below.

Get contest details or register for the Avatar Challenge program here.

  1. “STEAM Blends Science and the Arts in Public Education,” Wall Street Journal, 12/02/2013  

About Smith Micro Software, Inc.:

Smith Micro Software provides solutions that simplify, secure and enhance the mobile experience. Our portfolio includes a wide range of applications that manage broadband connectivity, data traffic, devices, voice and video communications over wireless networks. With more than 30 years of experience developing world-class client and server software, Smith Micro helps the leading mobile network operators, device manufacturers and enterprises increase efficiency and capitalize on the growth of mobile-connected consumers and workforces. For more information, visit (NASDAQ: SMSI)

Safe Harbor Statement:

This release contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, including without limitation, forward-looking statements relating to the company’s financial prospects and other projections of its performance, the execution of our recently announced restructuring, our ability to halt the decline of our cash reserves in light of our continued losses, the existence of new market opportunities and interest in the company’s products and solutions, and the company's ability to increase its revenue and regain profitability by capitalizing on these new market opportunities and interest and introducing new products and solutions. Among the important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements are potential for disruption and loss of customers and business from the transfer of duties and responsibilities in our recently announced restructuring, the risk that we will continue to incur losses and not regain profitability, the risk that we may need to raise additional capital to fund our operations and such capital may not be available to us at commercially reasonable terms or at all, changes in demand for the company’s products from its customers and their end-users, customer concentration given that the majority of our sales depend on a few large client relationships, including Sprint, new and changing technologies, customer acceptance and timing of deployment of those technologies, new and continuing adverse economic conditions, and the company's ability to compete effectively with other software companies. These and other factors discussed in the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its filings on Forms 10-K and 10-Q, could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in any forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements contained in this release are made on the basis of the views and assumptions of management regarding future events and business performance as of the date of this release, and the company does not undertake any obligation to update these statements to reflect events or circumstances occurring after the date of this release.

Smith Micro and the Smith Micro logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of Smith Micro Software, Inc.  Third-party trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners.  The use of the word partner does not imply a partnership relationship between Smith Micro and any other company.

Quotes from participants in education:

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh
Hans Westman, Academic Department Chair, Media Arts & Animation, Game Art & Design
"I am excited to know that our students will participate in the SmithMicro "Avatar Challenge" and compete with others across the nation in designing characters for Sprint’s new avatar feature", said Hans Westman, Academic Chair for Game Art & Design and Media Arts & Animation. "The Art Institute of Pittsburgh has a comprehensive college curriculum that teaches art focused skills for both the video game and animation industry. This opportunity presents a perfect way for our students to get involved with an extra curricular project, while in the process enabling them to explore the power and benefits of using Anime Studio in their future careers."

Simon Fraser University
Steve Di Paola, Past Graduate Chair, School of Interactive Arts and Tech, Dir. Cognitive Science Program
"With over 1000 digital media undergrads, Masters, PhDs, Simon Fraser University's School of Interactive Arts and Technology is very excited to be working with Smith Micro. Avatar Challenge is a rare project that combines our students design and animation skills together with very current app / social media design - all with leading industry connections - it is great opportunity for our students."

Cal State University Fullerton
Chuck Grieb, Professor and Area Coordinator for Animation
"Cal State Fullerton is pleased to announce our collaboration with Smith Micro in providing our animation students the opportunity to participate in creating mobile content! Industry relationships are an important part of the educational opportunities we offer at Cal State Fullerton. We are excited about the experience our students will gain learning to use tools to create mobile content and even more thrilled that the content they create has the opportunity to be seen and used by millions of consumers."

Florida State University
Peter Weishar, Dean, College of Visual Arts, Theater and Dance
"Florida State University is excited to partner with Smith Micro on this project. The Avatar Challenge Program will provide tools and a creative outlet for talented students to learn more about digital media production and possibly see their work distributed internationally."

Savannah College of Art and Design
Patrick Ryan Quinn, Associate Dean of Academic Services
"I am excited by this opportunity that Smith Micro has developed. We already use their Manga Studio product, as do many professionals, and the students love it's capabilities and flexibility."

University of Texas at Arlington
Mark Clive, Professor and Film Video Area Coordinator
"As an artist in film and animation, there are two of many important things that are vital to success; exploring new tools, and gaining recognition for your work. The first keeps one sharp and vital, the second gives valuable feedback and brings new patrons to your work. The Smith Micro "Avatar Challenge" program directly supports both of these key goals to artistic success."

Academy of Art University San Francisco
Charles Pyle, Director School of Illustration
“I support any opportunity to get my talented students seen in the professional sphere and experience real world conditions. The Avatar Challenge program is one of those opportunities, and we’re excited to participate."

Otis School of Design
Steve McAdam, Founding Academic Chair Product Design
"Smith Micro has always been about connectivity, delivering ways to connect people to people and people to themselves. Otis College of Art and Design is excited to participate in the Avatar Challenge and giving our student another tool they can use in expressing their creative voice."


Allegheny Intermediate Unit
Dr. Linda B. Hippert, Executive Director
“As the nation moves toward an inclusion of the arts in STEM learning, leading-edge software, educator training, and authentic projects are essential components in this great transformation of STEM to STEAM in formal education.”