Light Reading

Mobile Email Monoculture Fades

Light Reading
LR Mobile News Analysis
Light Reading
2/10/2006
50%
50%

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
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Ericsson's Hyperscale Datacenter System (HDS) 8000, featuring Intel's Rack Scale Architecture, caused a stir when it was announced at MWC 2015. For more on this revolutionary product, join me on Thursday, April 30 at 12:00 p.m. EST for a Super Webinar event, A New Hardware Paradigm for the Telco Data Center.
LRTV Documentaries
CableLabs' Clarke Updates Cable Virtualization

4|23|15   |   05:41   |   (1) comment


Former BT exec now leading CableLabs' NFV and SDN efforts explains key role of open source and updates efforts to virtualize the home network.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson's CTO Talks Transformation: Pt. II

4|23|15   |   08:19   |   (1) comment


In the second installment of an in-depth two-part interview, Ericsson's CTO Ulf Ewaldsson talks to Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders about cultural change, network slicing and technology advances.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson's CTO Talks Transformation: Pt. I

4|23|15   |   09:27   |   (3) comments


In the first installment of an in-depth two-part interview, Ericsson's CTO Ulf Ewaldsson talks to Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders about the incredible transformation underway in the communications networking industry.
LRTV Documentaries
LTE Paves the Way for the 5G Revolution

4|20|15   |   4:20   |   (0) comments


Håkan Andersson, head of 5G product strategy of the Radio Business Unit at Ericsson, discusses the role of LTE, the US and other industry verticals in building a true 5G ecosystem.
LRTV Documentaries
The 3GPP's Road to 5G Standardization

4|17|15   |   4:43   |   (0) comments


Satoshi Nagata, chairman of the 3GPP's TSG-RAN group and a manager at NTT Docomo, explains the standardization process for 5G, as well as the biggest challenges and opportunities.
LRTV Documentaries
AlcaLu CTO Makes the Case for a New 5G Air Interface

4|16|15   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Michael Peeters, CTO of wireless at Alcatel-Lucent, explains why 5G will require a new air interface to meet its diverse performance targets.
LRTV Documentaries
AlcaLu + Nokia: The New Uber-Vendor

4|15|15   |   2:42   |   (4) comments


Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Gabriel Brown discusses the technological and competitive opportunities and challenges if a merger between Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia comes to pass.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Data Center Power Play

4|15|15   |   6:22   |   (0) comments


Huawei has developed industry-leading energy efficiency capabilities for its indoor and outdoor data center solutions, explains Dr. Fang Liangzhou, vice president of Huawei's Network Energy product Line.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Routers, Switches Get the Green Mark

4|15|15   |   2:02   |   (0) comments


TUV Rheinland's Frank Dudley explains how Huawei's routers and switches have been successfully tested by energy efficiency experts and have gained Green Mark Certification.
LRTV Documentaries
A Finn, a Frenchman & a Guy From New Jersey Walk Into a Merger...

4|15|15   |   3:17   |   (0) comments


Stop us if you've heard this one before... Light Reading CEO Founder & CEO Steve Saunders weighs in on the technical and cultural implications of a Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent merger.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accounting for Better Solutions

4|10|15   |   02:31   |   (1) comment


Murad Yousuf, CTO at Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Finance (Dept. of Zakat & Income Tax), talks about the benefits of deploying router technology from Huawei.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
What's in Store for Huawei & DataCore?

4|10|15   |   05:44   |   (0) comments


At the CeBIT trade show in Hannover, Germany, George Teixeira, CEO of software-defined storage (SDS) specialist DataCore Software, explains why he has just signed a partnership agreement with Huawei Technologies.
Upcoming Live Events
May 6, 2015, Georgia World Congress, Atlanta, GA
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
In its latest survey covering network operators' plans and strategies for ICT transformation, Heavy Reading asked telecom operators worldwide to identify the most important goals and objectives for their ICT transformation initiatives. Heavy Reading also asked operators about the importance of a "digital first" strategy, which enables customers to complete an interaction across different digital channels, such as web and mobile self-service and social media.
Hot Topics
What if the Comcast Merger Fails?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 4/20/2015
Google's WiFi-First Mobile Service 'Fi' Is Here
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 4/22/2015
Comcast Merger May Hinge on Hulu
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 4/22/2015
Google Ready to Release Thousands of Loons
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 4/20/2015
Comcast Formally Ends Its Bid for TWC
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 4/24/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Many leading communications companies can claim to have undergone significant periods of reinvention during their histories, but none have been through more major ...
Data Center Interconnect, or DCI, is one of the hottest sectors in telecom currently. Since coming back to Light Reading last year, prodigal-son style, I've ...
Cats with Phones
Learning Curve Click Here
Pierre could never remember how to use Excel.
Latest Comment