Ireland’s two biggest mobile operators announced more new products and services this month.
Vodafone’s Email Anywhere service was officially launched this month. The service allows workers to pick up their email when on the move, on a variety of devices such as laptops, hand-helds or Wap-enabled phones. The service sits alongside a corporate email server and picks up email for re-transmission to a mobile device. The email is then securely transmitted onto the Vodafone network.
Customers using a Wap phone are given a specific Wap page to visit for collecting their email. A user name and password is required before the emails can be viewed. In the case of PDAs (personal digital assistants) or laptops with conventional web browsers, a specific web page can be visited to view email. A registration fee of €25 for up to 25 users or €15 for more than 25 users applies. After that a monthly usage fee of €15 per user for up to 25 users and €10 per user for more than 25 users is payable. GPRS or HSCSD (high speed circuit switched data) usage fees will also apply.
O2 previewed its next move on this front by announcing O2 Extended Office, a service that appears to go head-to-head with the Vodafone offering. The new service will work by supplying the customer with a dedicated server along with Extended Office software, which creates an interface between the GPRS network and the company LAN (local area network). The system works by syncing the individual’s mobile inbox with that on their corporate network. As well as being able to operate with laptops, the system is compatible with a variety of mobile devices, such as those running Windows Pocket PC, Symbian and Palm operating systems. It will also work with a BlackBerry.
O2 is currently carrying out trials of the service among selected clients and expects to make it available in the beginning of 2003. No details on pricing are available as yet. However, O2 confirmed that the fee will comprise a server licence fee that is either payable up front or in instalments. After that, the usual GPRS usage fees will apply.
O2 also announced that it has rolled out location-based services, in the form of a new product called Locator. It will provide customers with location specific information on nearby amenities such as ATMs or restaurants. Locator also features a Buddy Finder service, which allows users to find people based on the location of their mobile phone.
Unsurprisingly, Vodafone is also entering the location-based services arena. A Wap-based service for locating nearby services will be upgraded in January to allow for an SMS add-on. A people-finding service is also expected early in the new year.
By Dick O’Brien