Sophisticated Mobile E-Mail Apps Not Just for Smartphones


One of the happier realities of technology is that over the arc of time things become cheaper and more broadly available. This is a function of the press of competition on vendors and service providers and the steady evolution of technology.


The sexiest way to provide mobile e-mail is through smartphones. InformationWeek notes the happy fact that sophisticated mobile e-mail platforms are migrating downward and are increasingly common on cell and feature phones. The story says that the key factor is the inclusion of Microsoft's ActiveSync.


The piece does a good job of explaining that ActiveSync enables basic communications between handsets and back-office servers running Microsoft Exchange. The writer says that non-smartphone vendors have begun to include this feature as a way to protect their market positions, and looks at approaches from T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon Wireless.


The key is that people demand mobile e-mail, and the vendors and service providers that will give it to them will thrive. There is no reason to believe that this reality wouldn't resonate as strongly, or perhaps more strongly, if this Vodafone survey of UK Business was conducted in the United States. The carrier found that one-third of businesses expect a response to e-mail in two hours and 10 percent in 30 minutes.


The survey results are a strong endorsement of mobile e-mail as a necessary feature: Two findings were that lack of access to e-mail "caused unnecessary stress and conflict" in more than one-third of businesses queried in the country in general -- and 48 percent -- in London. The story quoted several other results of the survey, all of which point to the same thing: Mobile e-mail is important.


Clearly, the massive competition in the marketplace depresses pricing. One of many examples occurred last month, when BlueWhale introduced a free application that provides push e-mail -- the automatic dispatching of e-mails arriving at the server to the mobile device -- to non-smartphones. The story says that so far the application can only be used on the Nokia Series 60 and Sony Ericsson feature phones.


E-mail marketing firm ExactTarget offered an interesting take last month on mobile e-mail. Mobile-only e-mail accounts are proliferating. The company found that 52 percent of respondents use mobile devices as one option for sending and receiving e-mails. The other 48 percent have mobile-only accounts. The piece describes major characteristics of each group. Understanding how the area is evolving will aid IT departments as they plan mobile e-mail strategies, especially if they hope to avoid deploying smartphones.


Clearly, mobilized e-mail is a vital, but it is important to remember that it is deeply linked to other services. For instance, Apple's MobileMe -- a data synchronization service launched at the same time as the iPhone 3G -- offers the ability to maintain calendars, contacts, phones and other multimedia elements in addition to e-mail. ABC News describes the significant problems MobileMe had when it launched last week.