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Business users get mobile e-mail alternatives

Antony Savvas
Instant e-mail and voice conferencing were two of the most high-profile new technologies at 3GSM.

Ericsson announced that its P900 smartphone would support e-mail from the Blackberry Enterprise Server, giving business users an alternative to Blackberry mobile services. Ericsson's move follows operator O2's decision to support Blackberry's Enterprise Server with its XDA PDA.

Blackberry said it has sold more than 17,000 Enterprise Servers, which allow e-mail to be relayed to mobile users without them having to dial-up.

RIM, the company that owns Blackberry, saw a rival appear at 3GSM. German company space2go is offering companies a plug-in to their existing Microsoft Exchange mail servers that allows them to do the same thing as Blackberry's Enterprise Server.

The space2go system will mainly be sold via operators, and the company envisages users paying for the service based on the amount of data relayed. A space2go spokesman said firms could expect to pay about £7 a month to get 10Mbytes of e-mails. The scheme is supported by multiple mobile devices.

There were also new product developments around push-to-talk (PTT) technology, which allows phone users to speak to multiple users at the press of a button. The technology has already proved popular in the US.

Ericsson said it would incorporate the system into its phones using technology from US company Sonim Technologies, and Nokia announced that all its GPRS-equipped phones would have PTT from next year.

Orange has already launched a PTT service in the UK and is aiming to get one million users in the first 12 months.

However, Mark Blowers, senior research analyst at Butler Group, was sceptical about whether there would be enough demand for Orange to hit its target. "To use PTT you need new handsets, and business needs a good reason to upgrade. The Orange service relies on the Treo PDA which so far has not been a large seller on the UK market."

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