Startup vendor takes flight with Rogers Wireless

A mobile software start-up will soon be offering Canadian e-mail users the ability to access multiple accounts on a variety of devices. The offering will be part of a new Canadian wireless Internet service from Rogers AT&T Wireless Inc., Go America Communications Corp.’s Go Web, Research In Motion Ltd. and 21 content providers.

ViAir, which opened shop in February, will be providing the capability to customers of the new Rogers AT&T Wireless Go.Web initiative.

The new service will be made available on both the new palm-sized BlackBerry 957 and BlackBerry 950 wireless handheld devices introduced earlier this year. The content partners are to offer their products and services that can be accessed with the Rogers AT&T Go.Web microbrowser. As well as Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) Web sites, the microbrowser enables customers to access any HTML Web site.

For Kirkland, Wash.-based ViAir, this represents the company’s first sale of its first product and a great opportunity, said CEO Sung Rhee.

“Rogers is very unique in that it has multitudes of networks: two-way, CDP network and the soon-to-be-deployed wireless Web services,” Rhee said. “Our solution works across a multitude of networks and devices, so we were uniquely qualified to be able to provide this to Rogers’ customers.”

ViAir’s WirelessInBox software enables the user to access their e-mail on a wireless device. The strength of the company’s software is that it allows the user to access their e-mail no matter what device they are using or who their service provider is, said Rhee.

“We’ve looked at the e-mail services that are out there in the market and seized on the marketplace where people were not able to get their existing mailboxes through existing services,” Rhee explained. “The goal of [the] product was to allow anybody with an ISP, POP 3 or corporate e-mail to easily access their mail boxes from any various wireless device whether it’s a WAP-enabled phone, RIM pager or palm device.”

Customers of the new Rogers AT&T Wireless Go.Web service buy a RIM Blackberry unit on which the WirelessInBox comes pre-installed. Rhee said the software is fairly easy to use and allows the user flexibility in setting up their e-mail accounts and how they choose to reply to e-mails.

“By clicking on one of the links in the window portal and e-mail page, which you would be able to get on our service, all you need to do is type your e-mail address and you’d be able to start interacting with your existing e-mail with your [current provider’s] service,” Rhee explained.

“WirelessInBox supports a one-step sign-on where all of the user’s ISP mailboxes are pre-configured so that they don’t have to worry about what their IP and e-mail server’s addresses are.”

Rhee estimated that the average person on the Internet has three e-mail accounts.

WirelessInBox has a one-click import of contacts and addresses from address books on Outlook and Outlook Express.

“By going to our Web site you click one button and boom you can import all of your contacts that are on your PC’s desktop,” Rhee said.

The software has a filter that can be set to notify the user when certain or specific messages are in and allows the user to configure a set of rules and features for every e-mail account or set a custom filter across all the accounts. The replies are developed using Quick Text, a feature which aims to make it easy for people to reply to messages.

“(They are) a set of canned replies that you customize for quickly replying to an e-mail message such as ‘Okay, I’ll see you there’ or some other customized phrase you want to have to reply at the push of one button,” Rhee said.

Senior members of both Sprint PCS and Microsoft founded ViAir. Rhee started the MSN Mobile wireless Web project and ViAir’s chief strategist, Justin Webb, put together Sprint PCS’s wireless Web offering.

“This product is the first of many mobile products and infrastructures that we plan to provide,” Rhee said. “Our goal is to be able to provide a rich set of communication-oriented services as well as the overall infrastructure to manage multitudes of applications.”