O2 brings BlackBerry to Irish SMEs


3 Nov 2003

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Once purely the domain of corporate hotshots, the BlackBerry email device will now be made available to Irish SOHO and small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) workers for around €30 per month, O2 has confirmed.

When the Blackberry email machine was first launched in the Irish market last year, it was only available to corporate users and companies that had an enterprise IT infrastructure. Each device would have retailed at around €590.

However, according to Orlagh Nevin, head of business solutions at O2, the new software that enables the devices to connect to an internet user with a POP3 connection – usually a 56Kbps dial-up connection – is now available and the company has restructured the pricing regime to enable users in SMEs or self-employed workers to have the device for €129 with a monthly service charge of €30, which includes 3MB of GPRS data (equal to approximately 1,000 text emails per month).

The new BlackBerry offering is a hosted service that can retrieve email from up to 10 internet hosted accounts such as Eircom.net, Yahoo, O2.ie and Hotmail. BlackBerry automatically pushes incoming emails to users’ handhelds allowing them to check and respond anywhere to emails instantaneously.

According to Damien Gallagher, business consultant manager at O2, the Blackberry family comes with new software that enables workers on the move to open email attachments on their BlackBerry devices. Users do not need to invest in software or servers or integrate with existing company IT infrastructure as it is a hosted service only. They also have no need to dial in to access the service as messages are delivered automatically.

Nevin told siliconrepublic.com that O2 is currently looking at new features and services that could be added to the BlackBerry that would enable m-business applications and better flexible working. “We are identifying various business solutions and are willing to partner with fixed line telecom firms like Esat BT and Eircom to help them come up with good flexible working solutions,” she told siliconrepublic.com.

To test out the new SME/SOHO BlackBerry service, O2 conducted a trial with 25 different businesses, ranging from single SOHO workers to managing directors of SMEs, including advertising agency Limetree, telecoms player MinuteBuyer and the Merrion Hotel.

“Research shows that our corporate users save almost an hour per day by using BlackBerry,” Nevin said. “We are now bringing these cost savings, productivity gains and convenience to smaller businesses, professionals and sole traders.”

Peter McCann, general manager of the Merrion Hotel, said: “The efficiency of BlackBerry has helped me to manage my time much better. I can get off a plane and check and reply to my email immediately. Email keeps me informed of everything that is happening back at the hotel. We saw immediate benefits.”

By John Kennedy