Light Reading

Mobile Email Monoculture Fades

Light Reading
LR Mobile News Analysis
Light Reading

At this point, it seems, a workaround won't cut it.

With yesterday's lawyer-vetted, IT-friendly alternative software for running Blackberry devices, BlackBerry hopes to reassure restless customers and hold on to its dominant position in the North American enterprise mobile email market. With 4.3 million Blackberry subscribers, many of them corporate executives, financial analysts, and government officials, Blackberry has to date been able to fend off competition from rivals offering similar products based on Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Windows Mobile, Symbian Ltd. , Palm, or other operating systems.

Now, however, an array of market forces is pushing the mobile email market toward more interoperability and common software platforms -- and away from Blackberry's proprietary, combined hardware-and-software model.

Fully defined industry standards for mobile email may never become a reality, just as there is no single standard platform for corporate email systems. But according to IT managers, mobility solutions providers, and device makers, the move toward quasi-standardization -- i.e., a broad range of interoperability across various devices and operating systems beyond the Blackberry -- has gathered steam in recent months.

"As other platforms, like Good, Visto, Seven, and Nokia become more commonplace," notes Daniel Taylor, managing director of the Mobile Enterprise Alliance, "Blackberry will become Balkanized and will be forced to interoperate."

A powerful combination
There are plenty of recent headlines to back up that contention. Consider:

  • Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) today completed its acquisition of mobile applications developer Intellisync Corp. (Nasdaq: SYNC), creating a powerful combination of a dominant phone manufacturer and a maker of email software that will run on any platform and any device. (See Nokia Wraps Up Intellisync Buy.)

  • Attempting to make its operating system a de facto standard for mass-market mobile email, Symbian this week announced a "validation program" that will provide software support and an approval stamp for vendors offering mobile-phone applications running on Symbian's OS. (See Symbian Cuts OS License Fees.)

  • Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL)'s latest Collaboration Suite, released last fall, includes support for "Push-IMAP," a protocol that allows unified messaging – i.e., the delivery of email to a variety of wireless devices over public networks.

  • Open-source developer Funambol this week released an open-source mobile email platform, Funambol v.3, that works over Blackberries, Microsoft Windows Mobile devices, and WAP-enabled phones. (See Email Gets Open-Source Push.)

  • Running on Windows Mobile 5.0, Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT)'s Q handheld, wireless email device hits the enterprise market this quarter, joining a raft of new devices offering alternative, non-proprietary mobile devices. (See CES: Moto's Slim RIM Killer?)

In isolation, each of these is simply a move to capture a wider slice of a market with huge upside potential. Datamonitor released a report last November calculating that the potential market for mobile email comprises some 260 million enterprise users. Taken together, they describe a business growing beyond an early-adopter, monoculture environment to a more diverse ecosystem of devices and software that all work with each other.

Device driven
"Our view is that the nature of mobile email is going to change, and change rapidly," says Simon Garth, Symbian's London-based VP of marketing. "Today it's about buying a specialist device to do a specialist job; in a short space of time, it will be about a feature readily available on your mobile phone -- email will be just another service you sign up for on your mobile."

"What's driving the market are the devices," adds Alex Zaltsman, a partner at New Jersey-based IT services firm Exigent Technologies, which he says has around 50 mobile email customers. All but two or three now using Treos rather than Blackberries. "Five years ago, when RIM was the only game in town, it was just a matter of choosing which Blackberry you wanted to get. Now other manufacturers are coming out with interesting devices that are as portable as the Blackberry, but have more multimedia features, better Web browsing, and are able to run a variety of different applications."

Ultimately, an open-standards environment makes sense for carriers, device makers, applications developers -- and for enterprise customers.

"The majority of mobile phone applications are still inside this walled garden," observes Dave Rosenberg, CTO of San Francisco investment research firm Glass Lewis, "and sooner or later that's going to have to go away."

"Software has to work with all carriers," Rip Gerber, Intellisync's chief marketing officer, told a press roundtable in London in January. "People will want any application to work on any device on any network. Open standards will drive down costs. As the market matures, the technology will have to open up."

And it means that, regardless of the outcome of its long-running legal battle, RIM -- which was founded in 1984 and has enjoyed a virtual monopoly since introducing the Blackberry in 1998 -- may find itself in the unusual position of having to adapt.

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
From The Founder
Steve Saunders provides an overview of white box networking and introduces a new "slim line" version of the OSI 7-layer model.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Wagner’s Ring
The Business Case for Open Source

11|30|15   |     |   (1) comment

Open source helps companies enhance infrastructure, undermine competitors' advantage and teach collaboration. But there are problems.
Between the CEOs
Centec on Ethernet Switching

11|26|15   |   09:58   |   (0) comments

Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
LRTV Custom TV
Delivering Service Agility in the Virtualization Era

11|25|15   |   5.41   |   (0) comments

Interview with Massimo Fatato, WW OSS Business Lead, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Wagner’s Ring
How Might Open Source Fail?

11|24|15   |     |   (10) comments

Open source, SDN, and NFV are looking inevitable – but performance, standards proliferation and regulatory capture could derail the movement.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Lifecycle Orchestration – a Fresh Vision for Telco

11|23|15   |   6.40   |   (0) comments

Simon Osborne, CTO Comptel, and Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell reveal the business impacts of new SDN and NFV, and what the term service orchestration actually means. Together they define Lifecycle Service Orchestration and how the virtualized future will look for telecoms operators.
Between the CEOs
Cisco's Virtual Role in Saudi

11|20|15   |   12:15   |   (2) comments

Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Leads With Kubernetes for Cloud PaaS

11|19|15   |   08:26   |   (0) comments

Huawei is looking to Kubernetes as a key tool for building robust open source technologies for customers and partners, said Ying Xiong, chief architect of cloud platform at Huawei, in an interview with Light Reading West Coast Bureau Chief Mitch Wagner at the recent Kubecon conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
WiC in London: The Highlight Reel

11|19|15   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

NetCracker's Mervat El Dabae headlines an inspiring morning in London with help from leading women from Vodafone, TalkTalk, Hyperoptics and Ciena.
LRTV Documentaries
Why Saudi's So Hot for New Tech

11|19|15   |   05:07   |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders reports from Saudi Arabia, a hyper-competitive market desperate to embrace the next generation of communications technologies and services.
LRTV Custom TV
Why Data Models Deliver More Value Than Information Models

11|19|15   |   5.08   |   (0) comments

Stefan Vallin argues that more automation is needed to manage end-to-end services and the hybrid networks they run on, and that data models are key to achieving this.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
SDN Management & Orchestration in the WAN

11|17|15   |   7.20   |   (0) comments

Carol Wilson and Packet Design CTO Cengiz Alaettinoglu discuss CSPs' SDN service delivery and assurance requirements. Learn about a modular approach to building automated control, orchestration and management functions for the WAN that are policy- and analytics-driven.
LRTV Custom TV
Flash Networks: Optimizing for Radio Spectral Efficiency

11|17|15   |   3:34   |   (0) comments

Today most optimization vendors only focus on optimizing voice or data. Ofer Gottfried, Flash Networks' CTO, shows how improving data throughput and maximizing spectral efficiency reduces capital and operating expenses while also providing a platform for user engagement.
Allot MobileTrends Report H2/2015 reveals how daily online behavior can be used to discover smarter ways to profile customers and propose valuable, real-time offers to them.
Hot Topics
Samsung: No Sale of Wireless Unit
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/25/2015
Hong Kong Moments
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 11/26/2015
How Might Open Source Fail?
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/24/2015
Facebook in Africa: Beauty or Beast?
Iain Morris, News Editor, 11/27/2015
Cable Gives Thanks for Business Services
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 11/27/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
December 15, 2015
Virtualizing Cable Services
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
Cats with Phones
Can't Find the Phone on Thanksgiving? Click Here
Check under the cat! (hint: bottom right)
Live Digital Audio

Broadband speeds are ramping up across Europe as the continent, at its own pace, follows North America towards a gigabit society. But there are many steps to take on the road to gigabit broadband availability and a number of technology options that can meet the various requirements of Europe’s high-speed fixed broadband network operators. During this radio show we will look at some of the catalysts for broadband network investments and examine the menu of technology options on offer, including vectoring and for copper plant evolution and the various deployment possibilities for FTTH/B.