Nokia Corp has unveiled its most concerted effort yet to capture leadership of the enterprise mobility market with the announcement of a new family of products in differing form factors targeting users with more voice- or email-intensive requirements, and all of them enabling integration with corporate PBXs.
The enterprise suite of smart phones, branded the Eseries, comprises three models, all of them running the Espoo, Finland-based company’s Series 60 user interface to the Symbian OS, with prices forecast at between 350 euros and 450 euros ($420 and $540) in markets where the operators don’t subsidize handset prices.
The E61 is designed for the most email-intensive user, and is the device that most closely resembles the BlackBerry from market-leading push email vendor Research In Motion Ltd. It supports multiple push email services, including BlackBerry, Visto, Seven, and Nokia’s own recently announced Nokia Business Center. It offers both cellular and WLAN connectivity, as do the other two devices. It is designed for single-handed usage, said Niklas Savander, senior VP of business devices at Nokia Enterprise Solutions.
The E70, which Savander described as an all-in-one messaging device, has the format of candy bar with alphanumeric keyboard initially, but folds out to reveal a larger screen and a split Qwerty keyboard, half on each side of the screen, for writing emails and manipulating existing texts.
The E60 is the most voice-oriented of the three, and was described by Savander as primarily for voice but also has the capability of reading, deleting, or forwarding emails.
The choice of the S60 user interface rather than the S80 used on the two devices in Nokia’s Communicator range (the 9300 and 9500), which were its previous two attempts at enterprise devices, was dictated by ISV leverage, according to Mary McDowell, executive VP and general manager of Enterprise Solutions. This reveals how keen Nokia is to have more business apps developed and/or adapted for these phones. However, she also said the Communicator range has a long life ahead of it even though it won’t be re-branded as part of the Eseries.
A key element of the new products is their ability to integrate with corporate phone networks. Nokia offers software clients from Avaya and Cisco to integrate with their respective IP PBXs, as well as clients from OnRelay for integrate with legacy PBXs. Nokia said these clients enable the phones to act as terminals on corporate extensions, offering significant savings to big companies’ cellular phone bills.
The WLAN connectivity holds the same promise, with the difference that PBX integration brings them into the fold of whoever controls corporate telephony, enabling tracking of calls for purposes of compliance, for instance, said Bob Brace, VP of mobile solutions within Enterprise Solutions in EMEA.
All three Eseries phones work only in the GSM world, which means they can be offered in the US by operators such as Cingular and T-Mobile but not by CDMA operators Verizon or Sprint. McDowell acknowledged that in order to address the full North American market, Nokia needs a CDMA offering. This suggests that Eseries phones with that radio access technology could well be in the pipeline.