Mobile technology developer DataViz Inc has announced support for push email to Symbian phones in Exchange environments, before Microsoft Inc delivers the same functionality for Windows Mobile-based handsets.
The announcement from DataViz is not really an anti-Microsoft move, however, though it clearly takes a competitive stance against Windows Mobile 5.0.
The Milford, Connecticut-based ISV is a licensee of the Microsoft’s ActiveSync technology that underscores push for Exchange data, but delivers it on non-Microsoft OSes. Furthermore, as Ilya Eliashevshy, product manager at DataViz, put it, Microsoft gets more Exchange licenses as a result of our technology.
Announcing availability of push before Microsoft formally introduces it for Windows Mobile 5.0 is really just a marketing ploy, in that it wins DataViz some headlines.
The fact that it enables push Exchange on Symbian devices without the need for the data to go through a network operations center, be translated into a proprietary format as with BlackBerry services, or be forwarded from a corporate email server to dedicated device like the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), is the real proposition here, particularly if the corporate customer is already a Nokia or Sony Ericsson shop.
Microsoft owns the enterprise market, with 150 million Exchange seats worldwide, said the DataViz executive. Now non-mobilized companies can afford to mobilize Exchange without recurring service fees or the management overhead of an additional server.
DataViz calls its Exchange enabling product RoadSync and will charge a one-off license fee of $99 per user for version 2.0 (the one in which it is introducing ActiveSync support, i.e. push functionality), with discounts as volumes increase. As a promotion, the company is offering a free upgrade from v1.0.
The model for marketing RoadSync is different from that of Research In Motion Ltd’s BlackBerry service, which is primarily offered by mobile operators, who in turn host the BES.
With no middleware or proprietary server involved, Eliashevsky said DataViz will market it directly to enterprises, as well as having it marketed by Nokia. That is not to say that there is no potential for service provider involvement, however.
We are mobilizing companies that offer Exchange hosting, which can include carriers, Eliashevsky said.
DataViz has traditionally been known for its Documents To Go product, which started out enabling Palm users to visualize and manipulate Windows documents on their devices. It has shifted its focus to the Symbian camp since Palm has waned, and for this year at least, it will be concentrating on mobile email and RoadSync, for two good reasons.
Firstly, there is the fact that that market has really taken off, primarily due to the good work done by RIM, and secondly, because the BlackBerry service in the US is under threat of suspension if the NTP patent infringement lawsuit is successful in getting an injunction against the Canadian developer in the States.
In some sense, therefore, RoadSync can be thought of as a challenger for the BlackBerry crown, at least while the pioneer of push email languishes beneath a Damocletian sword in its largest market.
It’s certainly high-end, acknowledged Eliashevsky, though it’s better equipped to go down to prosumer because the cost structure is very different.
V2.0 of RoadSync debuts on the Nokia N9300 (which runs the Series 80 user interface to Symbian) and Sony Ericsson’s P910 (running the UIQ 2.0 interface). Elishevsky said DataViz plans to extend support to Series 60 and UIQ 3.0 shortly.
If DataViz is successful in capturing significant market share with RoadSync, Eliashevsky said Documents To Go will be step two, enabling users to get attachments and work on them.
In that context, DataViz touts its proprietary InTact technology, which enables changes to be made to Windows documents without affecting their look and feel, retaining their formatting, said the exec.
He added that he expects Nokia and Sony Ericsson to configure their phones with pre-packaged software from companies such as DataViz, enabling push Exchange services out of the box.