E-mail delivered to mobile phones is about to get easier to use in the enterprise, both on the proprietary and open-source fronts.
On Feb. 6, Microsoft announced that Sony Ericsson has licensed its Exchange ActiveSync protocol to enable more secure, wireless direct synchronization between Exchange Server 2003 and its phones.
The first implementation will be on the new Sony Ericsson P990 and M600 phones, which will be available in the second quarter of this year.
Exchange ActiveSync is a data synchronization service that enables mobile users to gain access to their e-mail, calendar and contacts and retain access to this information while offline.
This latest deal follows similar Exchange ActiveSync license agreements between Microsoft and DataViz Inc., Motorola Inc., Nokia, Palm Inc. and Symbian Ltd.
Also, on the open source front, Funambol, a mobile open-source software company, announced the release of Funambol v3 on Feb. 6, which the company says is the “first open-source push e-mail product for carriers and enterprises.”
The beta version can be downloaded for evaluation.
Funambols push e-mail capabilities include send, receive and forward functions and allow users to open attachments, check e-mail on and offline, and accept or decline meeting requests.
Funambol v3 supports Exchange, Domino, IMAP and POP e-mail servers, utilizes the e-mail client pre-loaded on the mobile device or a WAP browser, and supports end-to-end 128-bit SSL encryption.
The server supports RIM BlackBerry, Microsoft Windows Mobile, SyncML-compliant phones, and any WAP enabled phone.
Push e-mail is a technology that provides a copy of e-mail to a cell phone or PDA.
It is implemented by the e-mail provider as a subscription service and, for every e-mail that a user receives, the mail server makes a copy and forwards it to their PDA or cell phone. The user can also set up a mail filter that pushes only selected messages to their mobile device.
The idea originated on the Blackberry device, but other major players have entered the market.
In Microsofts case, those organizations that have deployed Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 will benefit from the additional mobile enhancements included there, such as Direct Push, which provides instant access to newly received e-mail messages, said Jeff Ressler, Microsofts director of product management and planning for Exchange Server.
to read more about Microsofts Direct Push e-mail support.
The growth of solution providers in the push e-mail space, both proprietary and open source, reflects the fact that the enterprise workforce is becoming increasingly mobile and is looking for solutions that allow them to remain connected, wherever they are and whenever they need to.
For Microsoft, the deal with Sony Ericsson continues its “ongoing commitment to expanding our IP licensing efforts, making it easier for others to license the companys growing IP portfolio based on its significant R&D efforts,” Ressler said.
The deal will help provide mobile workers access to their complete Exchange Server 2003 information, including e-mail, calendar and contacts, wherever they are.
“Mobile workers are increasingly looking for ways to stay connected on the move. The combination of our recently announced P990 and M600 phones together with the Exchange ActiveSync protocol, allows customers to easily manage their Exchange e-mail, calendar and contacts on the move,” said Brendan Press, head of enterprise marketing at Sony Ericsson.
The Sony Ericsson Web site says the P990 was the first smart phone to adopt the Symbian OS v9.1 and the UIQ 3 software platform.
“This UMTS smart phone is Wi-Fi-enabled, has Java API support to access the 2 megapixel camera, has a large QVGA touch screen and features a hardware keyboard beneath the flip-down keypad,” the site says.
According to research firm Gartner Dataquest, Microsoft Exchange currently has some 48 percent of the enterprise e-mail and calendaring software market, based on new license revenue.
“Organizations today require a more secure wireless solution for their mobile workers that is easy to manage and supported by a variety of devices. By licensing Exchange ActiveSync, Sony Ericsson is now able to deliver a comprehensive mobile messaging solution to these customers,” Ressler said.
Last December, Microsoft released the first beta for Exchange “12”—the next version of its e-mail, calendaring and unified messaging server—to a closed group of some 1,400 testers selected from its global customer, OEM, ISV and system integrator base.
For its part, Funambol v3 implements the Open Mobile Alliance Device Management/Device Synchronization (OMA DM/DS) standards, formerly known as SyncML, with some 75 percent of new mobile handsets sold worldwide now being SyncML compatible.
“Open-source software and standards will accelerate mobile e-mail deployments, increase revenue opportunities for carriers and give enterprises more flexibility. We believe that mobile e-mail will quickly become a commodity, so open source is the natural approach to this market place,” said Fabrizio Capobianco, the CEO of Funambol.
Like many other open-source companies, Funambol, which is headquartered in Redwood City, Calif., and has a development center in Italy, uses a dual-licensing model, where the commercial version has additional features, broader platform support, intellectual property protections, commercial license terms and available support.
As such, Funambol v3 is available in Carrier and Enterprise editions, and its components can be licensed separately for ISV and OEM contracts.
The company is not disclosing specific pricing, as it says this is customized for each customers needs, but products are typically sold on an annual per-user basis.
Funambol customers such as Ray Espinosa, the president of ePLDT, a wholly owned subsidiary of PLDT, the Philippines largest carrier, welcomed the latest release.
“Funambol v3 will allow us to better meet the needs of all our customers with branded personal information management and push email services around Sync123, the leading mobile personal information management service in Asia,” he said.
“Sync123 is essential to our plans of further expanding our mobile data services and provide for the ever-growing needs of our consumers,” Espinosa said in a statement.