In a new kind of investment for, the company has bought a 7% stake in GeoWorks, a California company that makes software for cellular phones. GeoWorks president and CEO Dave Grannan says his company's aim is to "facilitate the reach of the Internet from the desktop PC to the wireless device." The GeoWorks software allows cell phone manufacturers to offer their customers such options as Internet access, e-mail and PC connectivity. The Amazon investment amounts to $5 million and includes assuming the GeoWorks Seattle office lease and hiring some GeoWorks employees.

Amazon's previous investments have been in companies more closely related to its own online retailing emphasis, including online booksellers in Germany and the U.K., and the Internet Movie Database. The company also owns PlanetAll, a Web-based book, calendar and reminder service.In the first nine months of GeoWorks' current fiscal year, the company had revenues of $4.7 million, down 49.5% from the same period in the previous year. The company's net loss grew 19.8% to $13.3 million.