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Interoperability for enriched MMS

palmOne and e-mail, working with, but not waiting for, the operators.

Mark Hodgson, Director Business Markets – Europe palmOne talks about the company’s strategy for e-mail solutions.

Q: What is happening in the market for PDAs and converged devices at the moment?
A: The market for traditional PDAs is declining slightly. This is not because users are tiring of the functionality that PDAs provide. On the contrary, the primary use of a PDA for Personal Information Management (PIM) is more popular than ever, and to many, an essential business tool. The reason for the apparent decline in the PDA market is explained by the emergence of so called ‘converged devices’ which are essentially a mobile phone with PDA functionality. Such devices offer users all the functionality of a PDA but with the additional benefit of voice and new wireless applications such as e-mail. Indeed, even traditional PIM applications such as calendar and contact management are augmented when users have an ability to update them using wireless networks. This is why palmOne developed the Treo 600 and as a result, we see a fantastic growth opportunity for both usage of PIM applications and in particular mobile e-mail.

Q: What are the technological challenges of delivering e-mail?
A: Delivering user-friendly e-mail is not without technical challenges, not least because consumers, SMB, SME and enterprise customers each require different e-mail solutions. All of these challenges can be overcome once specific e-mail solutions for each market segment have been pre-defined and tested. At palmOne we have put a lot of energy into optimizing various e-mail solutions with our Tungsten and Treo devices and testing them with different networks across Europe.

Many e-mail solutions you see on the market from other device vendors are designed for individuals to get their personal e-mail from their Internet provider only, as opposed to corporate e-mail. These solutions are relatively simple but are not that easy to set-up. However with palmOne you do not need to understand anything too complex and can use wizards to configure your settings. This addresses the consumer market but is not going to get your corporate e-mail to a standard that is acceptable to corporate IT departments.

Q: You have outlined the benefits of consumer e-mail. How does this relate to corporate e-mail?
A: To provide corporate e-mail, you have to address the complex needs of IT departments and be knowledgeable about IT network environments. palmOne provides a range of solutions that address the functionality, security, manageability and cost requirements of all types of business.

Q: How do you make your case to the business market?
A: First of all you have to look at it in terms of different sizes of organisation and what they do. Very small businesses tend to either, ‘Ask the Audience’ i.e. talk to someone they know who has done it before or go into a small re-seller or carrier retailers and get their advice.

In order to attract small business users you need to provide relatively simple solutions. Firstly, we take the palmOne handheld out of the box, making sure that it can be set up quickly and easily. We then get Internet access working before configuring the e-mail solution. One of the easiest mobile e-mail solutions uses a desktop PC redirector where the user puts a CD into their PC, enters their name, e-mail address and a password and then synchronizes their palmOne device. Ten minutes later they can use mobile e-mail on their device. It works by redirecting e-mail from their always-on desktop PC to a ‘Server-in-the-Sky’, which is then accessed by the user. You can walk down the high street with your palmOne device and have all your e-mail delivered. A lot of people would want to do that.

Q: Can individuals take this type of solution into a larger business environment?
A: Yes. Even if you were working for a large corporation and they have all the firewall policies in the world you can use it. All you need is a PC that is always connected to the Internet in your office and because the PC is forwarding your e-mails out to this ‘Server-in-the-Sky’ you do not have any e-mail access issues.

Q: How do you grow it so more users can benefit from it?
A: Through what are called groupware redirectors. In a small business with about ten mobile employees, you need a groupware redirector supporting up to 20 users per PC. A small business with one dedicated PC enables everyone to get his or her e-mail remotely including attachment support. This really can be set up in 20 minutes. That is palmOne’s core competence. If you can synchronize your PC to your palmOne device, which most people can, there is no reason why we cannot do the same for e-mail.

Q: What is the cost to the user?
A: It can cost very little because of the way we are doing it. We package a CD with a device and provide free usage for 30 days, at the end of which consumers can choose to subscribe. The take up rate is very high - 80% plus. This is because it does not cost very much - about $100 per user per year.

Q: How are mobile operators responding?
A: Operators, with few exceptions, are not addressing the total e-mail market at the moment and I think they need to. Whilst some operators have put together e-mail solutions, they tend only to address the needs of large enterprise customers. Maybe this is because the operators have established sales channels to these customers so it seems the most logical place to start. However, many of the e-mail solutions that operators put together are complex and expensive. Further, as these solutions often attempt to support as many devices as possible, they tend to deliver a poor user experience as the user interface is optimized to the lowest common denominator. However, where palmOne has worked with the operators on solutions that address specific market segments with optimized solutions that give a great user experience, sales have been very encouraging. This is where palmOne is seeing the growth and is also what is going to drive data traffic for operators.

Q: What is the route to market?
A: Our route to market spans retails store, small business resellers and systems integrators. All the evidence indicates significant demand for mobile e-mail but to date no-one has made it easy for the consumer and small/medium business. To address this we launched mobile e-mail solutions for these customers simultaneously in the UK, Germany and Scandinavia in December and will be extending this across EMEA in the coming months.

Q: What is the market size?
A: Sales of combined devices look very rosy in 2004. However many of those purchasers will not actually use the device for mobile e-mail. palmOne estimate that in 2004 there will be around 1.2m new users of mobile e-mail in Europe. Of this approximately 500,000 of will be used for personal e-mail and 700,000 for accessing corporate e-mail. palmOne hope to capture a large share of the converged device market by making it easy for users.

The key is to put a very good phone on the market, with world-class contact and calendar management for which palmOne is famous and yet give users the additional benefits of email and access to thousands of applications.

This is what we are delivering with our Trio 600 and Tungsten W product lines.

Q: How are you working with the mobile operators?
A: We are working with operators on joint channel development for the delivery of mobile data solutions that increase data revenues. By using the mobile operator’s marketing skills we hope to capitalize on what is an attractive market opportunity.

For more information:
please contact: Mark Hodgson,
Or visit: http://www.palmone.com

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