Mobile e-mail choices galore at 3GSM

The software upgrade that enables push e-mail to Microsoft Corp.’s latest mobile handset software is just about to reach end users, but enterprises have plenty of other options for supporting push e-mail to choose from. At the 3GSM World Congress this week, Microsoft and others made announcements about new push e-mail services as well as new devices designed for mobile e-mail use.

Early in the week, Microsoft said that in March, Vodafone Group PLC and the Dutch subsidiary of T-Mobile International AG & Co. will start offering push e-mail to users of Windows Mobile 5.0 devices featuring an upgrade that enables the push e-mail feature.

Also at 3GSM, Microsoft showed off a new smartphone, the Samsung i320, which will become available in Europe at the end of this year. The very thin phone features a Qwerty keyboard and a media player and will run Windows Mobile 5.0 supporting push e-mail. The phone will operate on EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) networks however, not the higher speed 3G networks.

Fujitsu Siemens Computers (Holding) BV also introduced a new line of phones running Windows Mobile 5.0 and featuring push e-mail, the Pocket Loox T series. The handsets will operate on 3G networks as well as Wi-Fi and will start selling in Europe in July.

Such devices should help deliver push e-mail and other functions out to a wider audience, said Scott Horn, general manager of Microsoft’s mobile and embedded devices group. “Windows Mobile helps break down the barrier between PDAs and phones,” he said.

But Microsoft’s push e-mail wasn’t the only one discussed at 3GSM. Visto Corp. launched a new version of its platform, Visto Mobile 5.5. Visto’s existing platform is used by mobile operators including Vodafone to deliver a hosted push e-mail service to users. The new version supports multiple mailbox management and also allows IT managers to remotely wipe data from devices that may be lost or stolen. It will be available to operators in the second quarter.

LogicaCMG PLC and Synchronica PLC also introduced new push e-mail products at 3GSM. LogicaCMG’s new platform can be used by operators to target small and medium sized businesses as well as heavy e-mail using consumers. Synchronica PLC said it is now selling SyncML, a gateway that can be used by enterprises or operators to push e-mail from Microsoft Exchange 200 or 2003 or Sun Java Enterprise System 3 out to SyncML-enabled phones.

Seven Networks Inc.’s latest push e-mail offering, launched at 3GSM, targets small businesses or groups with as many as 25 users. Seven said the product is designed to be installed by someone who may not have IT expertise. The software can push e-mail from Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Domino as well as POP3 and IMAP servers.

Funambol Inc. demonstrated its open source push e-mail offering and announced that Philippines Long Distance Telephone Co. will use the software to offer mobile e-mail to customers.

The week prior to 3GSM, Nokia Corp.’s acquisition of Intellisync Corp. closed. At the conference, Nokia said that a single offering will come that combines Nokia’s Business Center push e-mail product with Intellisync’s offerings, said Dave Grannan, general manager of e-mail enterprise solutions for Nokia.

The integrated product will include a couple of features from Nokia’s Business Center including one that lets users view an attachment in a browser rather than having to download a potentially large file, he said.

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