E-Mail Push Services

I was at a meeting recently and it was quite fascinating to see how many people were only half present. Their other half was allocated to tapping away on their Blackberries. I’m sure this is a zero sum game. Any productivity gained from instant e-mail must be offset by the loss in concentration from the task at hand. Regardless, great numbers of us, myself included, want our email in real time.

RIM is by far the leader in this space, and for good reason, as they have great devices and a comprehensive end-to-end solution that not only delivers the mail, but provides thorough management and security. They've had their share of competitors as well, with the likes of Good Technology, Intellisync (now owned by Nokia), JP Mobile, SEVEN, and Visto. Despite all the attention this moment on the various lawsuits flying between players in this space, eyes are now focused on a new entrant to this space -- Microsoft.

Microsoft has just made available its Messaging and Security Feature Pack (MSFP) for Windows Mobile 5.0-based devices. This offers push e-mail capability that Microsoft is calling Direct Push Technology. The advantage to companies is that if they have Microsoft Exchange and are using Windows Mobile devices, they won’t need any additional infrastructure. Cellular operators can also host Microsoft Exchange mailboxes for smaller businesses or individuals that don’t want to run their own mail servers. On the surface, this would seem to be a huge threat to companies in this area. However, there are a number of items to keep in mind.

First, Direct Push will only work with new Windows Mobile devices that are based on WM5 with MSFP. Second, it requires organizations to be using Microsoft Exchange 2003 with the latest service pack, SP2. Third, the overall feature sets and management capabilities of this solution are nowhere near as broad as the third-party solutions, nor are as many devices supported. Finally, we have no idea yet how efficient or robust the Microsoft solution is in its wireless transport protocols. So while Microsoft is likely to be a factor in this industry segment, this market is young enough, the penetration of wireless real-time e-mail is low enough, that innovative companies in this space will continue to thrive.

— Peter Rysavy, Contributing Editor, Unstrung

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