Last month, I wrote about SMBs' growing fondness for smartphones. Based on the optimistic data I cited from the Computing Industry Association and Access Markets International Partners, SMBs would appear to be ready for a new product from start-up Visenza that can wirelessly link smartphones to a shared server for Microsoft Outlook or Entourage connectivity.
The SMB market has long been overlooked by vendors with their eyes on the enterprise prize, contends Eric Bengston, Visenza's founder and CEO, in a Telephony Online story. Visenza's product, in contrast, is aimed squarely at SMBs, consultants and consumers, he says.
Many smartphones limit SMBs to connecting to Yahoo e-mail or Gmail accounts or perhaps POP3 e-mail. But Bengston says that means they cannot access the full capabilities of calendar synching, contact synching and notes and tasks functions. While the latest version of the iPhone offers an ActiveSync feature that allows users to connect phones with Exchange servers, it only works if the server at a user's company is equipped with ActiveSync.
Bengston likens his company's hosted exchange to a similar service offered by BlackBerry to larger companies. He says:
We are providing that economy of scale by being able to provide the same level of service to individuals and SMBs that have had that same type of corporate e-mail system for some time.
Of course, BlackBerry itself offers a scaled-down version of its enterprise service to SMBs. And Visenza has other competitors as well, including Visto Mobile and Synchronica. But Bengston says these companies haven't made enough of an effort to reach out to SMBs.
According to the story, Visenza will offer packages of 10 to 100 mailboxes for packaged services. Bengston expects the service will be offered for about $25 a month, though pricing hasn't yet been finalized. Visenza hopes to establish relationships with major carriers to help market the service.