Vodafone take Notes on mobile services

Mobile biz aps for road warriors on the way

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TMA Vodafone has launched a service that will allow Lotus Notes users to pick up email on their mobiles.

The service, available at the end of November, will allow access over both GSM and GPRS mobile networks to Lotus Notes email, calendar and directory applications, and comes as an extension to the mobile operators OfficeLive brand. Phones or PDAs with WAP browsers or laptops are all supported as client devices.

Back in June, Vodafone launched a similar facility that would allow corporate users to access Outlook emails by connecting to an Exchange Server that can talk to a client via Microsoft's Mobile Information Server.

In the same way users can log into an Exchange environment or intranet, Vodafone's deal with IBM means that they can log into a Domino environment or intranet. Vodafone recommends its resellers should charge between £9-£11 per month per user for access to either service.

David Steel, group product manager at Vodafone, told us it wasn't seeing any demand for its users for the facility to be extended to GroupWise (which doesn't reflect well on Novell which has been making noises about playing in the mobile space of late).

Quite how successful OfficeLive has been so far remains a mystery because Steel said the number of users remained "commercially sensitive" and the question of how much integration charges might be also went begging.

Extending important applications to mobile workers is clearly the way forward and with the addition of always-on GPRS connections we're beginning to see something more useful than vanilla WAP services, which have proved a disappointment.

OfficeLive extends to Web-enabling other applications, and Steel told us Vodafone would offer CRM and ERP aps "early next year" though not on launch through an ASP offering (which would appear to make most sense).

Mobile business aps, like ERP on the move and the ability to pick up emails via a unified messaging server (due by year end), are likely to drive the uptake of services and make the mobile internet more than just a marketing concept. Vodafone is going in the right direction though how fast its going there remains hard to say. ®

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