Vodafone pushes more email offerings

15 Nov 2005

New email services from Vodafone will aim at pushing ‘mail on the move’ further into organisations, according to the operator, which says that its BlackBerry solution is typically only used by the top 5-10pc of a company’s staff.

“We still have to focus on getting email out there. It’s only the top portions of a company that have it,” according to Vodafone’s head of business products, Chris Handley. The operator has launched three new offerings as part of its Vodafone Business Email portfolio.

Using the Visto Mobile platform, the top-line product is based on the BlackBerry model but less expensive and available across a wider range of devices, according to Handley. Similar to BlackBerry, the Enterprise offering also has software installed behind the company firewall that pushes email out to the user device as it arrives.

The service supports attachments and goes across a wider range of handheld business devices (HBDs as Voafone likes to call them) than BlackBerry. “This means it will work with something like the Nokia 6680, which is a much better phone than the BlackBerry 7100,” said Handley. He argued that the choice of device is important because there’s still a challenge in persuading people to have a one-stop phone. “There will always be people in a company that want to have a dedicated device for email and BlackBerry is a good solution for that,” he added.

The second offering is called Small Office. Companies can download a piece of software to a PC on the office network, which forms a connection with Vodafone’s server located in the operator’s data centre. Emails into the office are fowarded via a secure SSL connection to Vodafone that will push it out to the employer’s device. A requirement is that a PC has to be left on somewhere in the company, at all times, to maintain the connection to the Vodafone server.

The third offering is the internet version. Using the POP 3 dial-up protocol, it’s the cheapest route for pushing out email to end-user devices.

“We are providing our customers with a number of options and will be adding more as we go forward,” said Handley. “We’re already looking at doing something around Microsoft Exchange software for the SME community.”

The ultimate objective is that customers can pick an email solution that fits their architecture in terms of functionality and security at a price they can afford. “We know that one size does not fit all,” said Handley. “RIM has done a great job in making initial penetration into this market. Moving forward we’re looking to provide a portfolio of solutions that gives the widest possible choices and the best fit.”

By Ian Campbell