Intermedia Brings Hosted Microsoft IM to BlackBerry Smartphones

Intermedia, a Microsoft Exchange-focused host of business apps for cost-conscious companies, adds support for Microsoft Instant Messaging on RIM's BlackBerry mobile and wireless devices to its Business Productivity Suite., a provider of hosted solutions to small businesses that specializes in Microsoft Exchange, has extended its hosted e-mail service to include Microsoft Office Instant Messaging for BlackBerry smartphones.
Intermedia became the first provider to host Microsoft Exchange in September 2000, according to the company, and in November 2007 it joined Research In Motion's BlackBerry Alliance program. In January 2008 it began hosting Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, and in February 2008 it launched e-mail encryption as a service.
Now, says Danny Essner, director of marketing for Intermedia, the company hosts 325,000 e-mail boxes around the world, though its primary business is in North America. With this latest announcement, Essner says, Intermedia is the first to offer hosted Microsoft IM for BlackBerry devices.
"Setup is entirely over the air," Essner said. "We have a Web-based control panel that all our customers use, and [they can just] log into their control panel to activate it. ... It's a one-click setup from there."
Intermedia launched IM support for desktops and notebooks in 2008, but the RIM BlackBerry is the first device it has extended mobile IM support to.
Hosted solutions are a popular choice among small and midsize businesses, which have not been immune to the effects of the economy on IT budgets.
According to a report from Osterman Research, 45 percent of SMBs are planning to reduce their IT budgets in 2009, and that non-labor expenditures on e-mail and IM will overall be lowered from 2008 levels.
However, Osterman additionally stated that the BlackBerry is the dominant mobile platform among SMBs, and that the penetration of BlackBerry devices, along with that of Apple iPhones, is expected to increase during 2009.
As the popularity of IM grows among small business users, Essner siad, acceptable response times are shrinking. "With IM, you expect a response in a few minutes," Essner told eWEEK. "That's the demand our customers are placing on us. They need to do it securely and in a way that's cost effective for them."
Intermedia's Business Productivity Suite begins at $15 per user, per month, and the Instant Messaging feature is now included as a free add-on.