Several mobile e-mail access companies this week will announce products and services designed to compete with Research In Motion Ltd.s BlackBerry platform, but RIM continues to hold its own, with new carriers and device partnerships due by years end.
At the CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment show in San Francisco, Intellisync Corp. will introduce Intellisync Unified Messaging for Mobile Devices. “Intellisync has moved into the wireless enterprise space full force,” said Bill Jones, a product manager at the San Jose, Calif., company. “This is really unified messaging.”
A new version of the companys Intellisync Mobile Suite, the new platform makes e-mail, voice mail, text and instant messaging accessible on a single device screen. This includes the ability to view all the major IM networks, including AOL, Google, Jabber, ICQ, MSN Messenger and Yahoo IM, as well as corporate platforms such as Microsoft Live Communications and IBM Lotus Sametime.
The platform has new presence capabilities, officials said. An IM client allows others to see when a user is online, but Unified Messaging lets users specify how they would like to be contacted, setting their status to let colleagues know to use a text message rather than a voice call.
Unified Messaging also includes a data collection feature that lets a user see all the information relating to one contact—e-mail, voice mail and SMS (Short Message Service) messages—in a single view.
Supporting PalmSource Inc.s Palm OS, Microsoft Corp.s Windows Mobile and Symbian Ltd.s Symbian OS, the Unified Messaging platform will be available in November, both as a private-label offering from carriers and directly from Intellisyncs enterprise sales force, officials said.
Seven Networks Inc. will announce three new carrier partnerships in Europe and Asia, resulting in a total of 73 carriers offering the Redwood City, Calif., companys mobile e-mail platform.
Currently 140 carriers sell BlackBerry devices and services, and that number will soon exceed 200, said RIM officials in Waterloo, Ontario.
Visto Inc. at the show will announce support for 17 new devices on its Visto Mobile platform, meaning the platform supports 60 devices, said Visto officials in Redwood Shores, Calif.
But RIM has been slowly inching out of its BlackBerry device comfort zone via its BlackBerry Connect program, which enables non-RIM devices to work with the BlackBerry Enterprise Server. BlackBerry Connect has been slow to gain traction in the United States, but that seems to be changing.
By the end of the year, BlackBerry Connect support will be available in the United States on both the Nokia 9300 and on Palm Inc.s Treo devices, according to industry sources. Cingular Wireless will be offering these BlackBerry-connected products, sources said. By November, T-Mobile USA Inc. and Verizon Wireless will be selling Windows Mobile devices that support BlackBerry Connect, sources said.
Competitors argue that BlackBerry Connect is not the same as building support for a device from the ground up. Still, its not easy to pull customers away from the BlackBerry.
“It would take a lot for me to switch from RIM at this point,” said Nicholas Gass, IT manager at Color Kinetics Inc., a digital lighting company in Boston. “Our infrastructure is established, both back and front end, and weve established a comfort level with all aspects of the BlackBerry product line.”