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Java client offers cheaper, faster mobile email

Trimming off the fat

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An optimised email client for Java-capable phones could drastically cut the cost of reading and replying to email on the move, according to British developer Imhotek.

Called IXPLite, the software is a cut-down version of Imhotek's existing mail client, and it saves connection costs by trimming off all the fat from messages, so that the user only receives the sender's name, the subject and a chunk of the body text.

The remainder is then compressed to save even more space. Imhotek technical director Steve Allam says that when he tested it with an IMAP mailbox holding 30 messages, a normal email client needed to download 30k for the headers alone, whereas IXPLite required just 4k - and that included the first 500 characters of each body text too.

IXPLite runs over standard GSM and GPRS connections on a wide range of phones, including the Nokia 6310i, Sharp GX10 and Siemens S55. It does have limitations, for example you can only reply to messages, not start new ones, and it requires optimising software at the server end.

"It could either be a subscription service or we could sell the server to corporates to bolt on to their email system," Allam says. "We want to get corporates to trial it and see what value they get, and then we can decide the pricing.

"In particular we need them to compare it with WAP email - we think it will be quicker and easier for many users, and it has usability advantages too." ®

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