The Microsoft Corp. Windows Mobile-powered Palm Inc. Treo may be the talk of this year's CTIA Wireless I.T. & Entertainment show for enterprises, but there were other new offerings hitting the market at the San Francisco conference and exhibition. Palm's new Treo running Windows Mobile 5.0 will come out early next year for Verizon Wireless Inc.'s EV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimized) network, executives of the companies said at a press conference in San Francisco. The phone/PDA (personal digital assistant) is Palm's first foray out of PalmOS devices, and the company has high hopes it will blaze trails into enterprises.
The Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association's show featured business productivity applications and devices along with many consumer-oriented entertainment and messaging technologies.
Intellisync Corp. used the show to introduce a unified messaging system for mobile devices that it says will stop enterprise users from having to carry notebooks on their travels. Designed to be set up by either enterprises or mobile operators, Intellisync Unified Messaging will present users with easy "one-touch" access to e-mail, voice mail, IMs (instant messages) and text messages on phones and other devices, according to the San Jose, California, company.
The platform works with Microsoft Corp. Exchange, IBM Corp. Lotus Domino and enterprise instant messaging systems, including Microsoft Live Communications Server and IBM Lotus Sametime. It also supports consumer IM networks such as AOL Instant Messenger and MSN Messenger. Messages from all the IM systems are presented together on the same screen, said Rip Gerber, chief marketing officer at Intellisync.
Intellisync also has tied the platform's real-time presence feature into calendar and contact information from applications such as Exchange. As a result, the unified messaging system can tell a would-be caller if a contact is in a previously scheduled meeting or on a business trip. Based on a contact's location or preferences, the platform can display in real time the best ways to reach that person, and each user can personalize those preferences. In addition, the application can make all the communication data about a particular contact -- including current and past e-mail voice mail and SMS (Short Message Service) messages -- available in one place on a mobile device, the company said.
Another feature built into the IM function, called Bot Buddies, is designed to provide easy access to selected types of information. Bot Buddies, which are automated information services, appear as contacts on the IM screen. Users send them messages to ask for stock quotes, weather, sports updates or other information, which comes back to the user like an IM response.
Intellisync Unified Messaging is available as a component of the Intellisync Mobile Suite for enterprises and the Intellisync Carrier Platform for service providers. It will be available worldwide in November, with support for 21 e-mail languages. A perpetual license for enterprises will cost about US$160 per user, Gerber said.
The time is ripe for many large enterprises to adopt unified messaging, according to Bob Egan, an analyst at Tower Group, a market analysis company in Dedham, Massachusetts. The primary business driver for unified messaging now is the need to bring different forms of communication and contact information together under one system that can be centrally controlled, Egan said. In some industries, such as financial services and health care, security and privacy issues require a tighter grip on communications, he said. The hope for greater ease of use and productivity may be an added benefit.
As a result, good policy management tools are critical in evaluating a unified messaging system, Egan said. The problem only gets tougher when location technology such as GPS (Global Positioning System) comes into the picture, he added. Management has a serious responsibility when it comes to managing information such as where employees go with their GPS-equipped cell phones after work hours, he said. Security issues call for good management tools, too.
"Maybe you don't want to talk about when half your executive team is on a particular airline flying over the ocean at the same time," Egan said.
Smaller enterprises with little in-house IT expertise may want to get into unified messaging, too, and carrier-hosted systems may be best for them, he said.
As the enterprise mobile device market heats up, several new handhelds will be on display at CTIA.
Hewlett-Packard Co. showed off new iPaq Pocket PCs, all of which run Windows Mobile 5.0 and are available now. The iPaq rx1950 is equipped with Wi-Fi capability, as much as 96M bytes of total memory and a Secure Digital slot. Weighing in at 4.4 ounces (124 grams), it will have an estimated street price of $299. HP also unveiled three new models in the iPaq hx2000 series. The hx2790, for $499, has Wi-Fi and a biometric fingerprint sensor; the hx2490 and hx2190 both have strong data and device security, according to HP. The hx2490 has Wi-Fi and costs an estimated $399. The hx2190, without Wi-Fi, costs $349.
Also at the show, Sprint Nextel Corp. introduced two enterprise devices, including a world phone with PDA features for its iDEN network. The Motorola Inc. i930 will work with GSM/GPRS (Global System for Mobile communications/General Packet Radio Service) 900MHz and 1800MHz networks as well as iDEN, said Eric Martin, manager of business device marketing. The phone uses Microsoft Corp. Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition and has a clamshell design. It also includes GPS (Global Positioning System) capability, national and international push-to-talk, and camera and camcorder capability. It has 64M bytes of flash memory and 32M bytes of RAM.
Until now, neither Sprint nor Nextel had offered a "smart" phone that worked on their own domestic networks and overseas GSM networks, Martin said. The carriers recently merged to form Sprint Nextel. The i930 will become available shortly and will carry a suggested retail price of $499.99, with a promotional offer of as little as $349.99 with a two-year contract.
The carrier also unveiled the Nextel Roadrunner Bluetooth Scanner by Baracoda SA. This barcode scanner can exchange information with the Motorola i605 and BlackBerry 7520 handsets, both of which work on the iDEN network, said Melanie Bain, a product manager in Sprint Nextel's product development organization. Because it uses Bluetooth, the scanner can be used apart from the handset and gives users more flexibility. The scanner uses its own rechargeable batteries and doesn't drain the handset's batteries, Bain said. It is intended for tasks such as logistics, asset management and retail inventory.
The scanner will be sold through Sprint Nextel's business channels for a list price is $399, with a promotional price of $299 for the next six to nine months, she said.
Seven Inc., a mobile e-mail software vendor based in Redwood City, California, announced carrier relationships that will make its technology available in three Asian countries. Seven's software provides subscribers with real-time mobile access to business and personal e-mail. DTAC (Total Access Communication Public Co. Ltd.) in Thailand will use Seven's technology for its DTAC PushMail service, Far Eastone Telecommunications Co. Ltd. in Taiwan will use it for the Mailgene Plus service, and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.'s ePLDT unit in the Philippines will offer a Seven-based service called Mobile Exchange, according to Seven. -- IDG News Service