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Extended Systems Eyes Carriers

Extended Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: XTND) has started to sell its wireless synchronization server to European carriers that are trying to get a real grip on the enterprise data market.

The Boise, Idaho-based company has just announced a win with U.K. mobile carrier mmO2 plc (see MMO2 Gets Extended). "We're also working with Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), Orange SA (London/Paris: OGE), and T-Mobile International AG -- all at different levels of formality -- but looking at doing the same kind of thing," says David Hofacker, general manager of Extended Systems' U.K. office.

MmO2 is looking to sell its corporate customers a package of its GPRS-enabled XDA combination phone/handheld computing devices and a branded version of the Extended Systems XTND Connect server. Such a system would allow users to wirelessly synchronize the email, contact, and calendaring information on their devices with an Exchange or Domino server behind the corporate firewall "out of the box." Customers can also use the system to link to sales force, CRM, and other custom apps, as they are based around standard database types, although such connectivity will involve more integration work, Hofacker says.

This move towards the carrier market is quite a change for Extended Systems, which has until now been very focused on the enterprise market in the U.S. However, Hofacker says the company has started to cross paths with operators because their main route to wireless data revenues "is really becoming the enterprise." The synchronization server package that mm02 is offering links to the aforementioned Exchange and Domino groupware packages as well as those databases that are compliant with Open DataBase Connectivity (ODBC) and ActiveX Data Objects (ADO) -- which is to say, all the major ones. The software also has device management features including backup/restore, asset tracking (user ID, device number, memory status, software onboard, etc.), and over-the-air software download and installation, so that devices do not have to be returned to the IT department to be updated.

The server is set up to address corporate fears about the security of wireless data and devices. "With the way that 02 is using it, we can actually kill a device," says Hofacker.

The system uses scheduled synchronization so that a user can set it up to send and receive data at predetermined times (every 5 minutes, every 15 minutes, and so on). So if a user reports a device stolen, the IT department can send out a "kill signal" that wipes the device, and all the information from that device is wiped on the server.

Mm02 already offers subscribers a wireless email service using software from Seven Networks Inc. that allows subscribers that sign on for the service to access email on their WAP phones. However, the Extended Systems deal allows the operator to sell software directly into the enterprise.

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung www.unstrung.com
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