Control Outlook from your Blackberry, says O2 - without a Blackberry

by Guy Kewney | posted on 20 January 2004

Individuals in Europe have ignored the Blackberry (mostly) because it was seen as a totally corporate tool - but phone carrier MMO2 is working on a £12 per month Blackberry messenger service for the non-corporate user. The only difference is - no Blackberry. Instead, you use the XDA2 pocket computer. What will RIM think?

Guy Kewney

The enabling technology is the remarkable (award-winning, even) Duality software, which readers will possibly remember was developed by Commtag - which was taken over by Finnish company Smartner last year.

The new product was supposed to be released just before Christmas, when Smartner signed up with O2's "Accelerator" programme in the UK.

Duality automatically forwards emails and attachments to the Pocket PC phone, where the user can view, edit, forward, file or delete them. "All actions are in real-time and are automatically mirrored on their desktop, so once deleted an email won't re-appear," commented an executive on behalf of Smartner. "Receiving email is as simple as switching on the mobile device. And with the introduction of Xda2 which has tri-band capabilities this is a truly global mobile office solution."

Smartner is almost indecently pleased about winning this contract O2's Accelerator Programme. "It only accepts the very best products and applications developed by third parties," enthused the publicity team; adding: "Products and applications allowed into the Incubator process must meet key success criteria of technical robustness and good customer experience, enhancing or providing new sales of mobile data solutions in association with O2, generating positive PR within specialised press, increasing voice usage, and showing a positive impact on customer satisfaction levels." Presumably this means that if people like me don't write about it ("positive PR within specialised press") then they get fired?

If obsequious enthusiasm counts, no: "We are delighted to work with O2. The Accelerator Programme represents a unique opportunity for Smartner to jointly trial and develop an effective go-to- market approach with the market leader in mobile data services," said Richard van Beckhoven, General Manager, Smartner.

If MMO2 is equally enthusiastic about it, the excitement is well concealed on their UK Web site where the latest news release appears to be dated August last year.

Smartner recently announced its participation in the Microsoft Mobility Partner Advisory Council (MPAC). Microsoft formed the council in an effort to bring the most innovative and successful solutions to market with companies who are investing heavily in mobility.

This was partly acknowledgement of the technology in Duality which integrates with Microsoft Exchange server to push data to Microsoft Windows Mobile-based Pocket PCs and Smartphones - the XDA is one such.

The final intriguing question is what RIM will make of the publicity which uses the Blackberry name to sell a rival product. That might be a space worth watching ... MMO2 sells both Blackberry and XDA2 products.

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