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Nokia unveils aggressive mobile email challenge

Good to drive pitch to win all 650m corporate email accounts

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Nokia's Enterprise Solutions chief, Mary McDowell, said in July the company wasn't interested in acquiring RIM, and today she revealed why.

The mobile phone giant unveiled Nokia Business Center (NBC) this morning, a mobile email system designed to make access email and corporate data on the move "more affordable, intuitive and collaborative" and which will "change the economics of mobile email adoption".

Nokia's ambition is certainly aggressive. "Nokia is going after the full 650m corporate email inboxes," pledged McDowell today.

Nokia is working with mobile email specialist and RIM-rival Good Technology. Almost a year ago, Good and Nokia said they were co-operating on the development of a version of Good's GoodLink and GoodAccess applications for Symbian Series 80 and Series 60 devices, and Nokia's client and server code sounds very much like Good's.

Privately held Good was recently rumoured to have rid itself of a high proportion of its sales and services workers in a bid to move away from direct sales to indirect sales through network carriers.

"Most of sales and service were laid off," claimed one ex-employee, according to a posting on the FuckedCompany.com website. "They're changing their sales model from direct to indirect through carriers across the board."

We can't help but wonder if such a move, if accurate, is directly related to Nokia's announcement. Nokia may not be interested in acquiring RIM, according to McDowell, but it could very well have its eye on Good.

While Nokia today noted it supports a number of other mobile email solutions, including RIM's, it's telling that only Good was on hand to voice its support for Nokia's NBC strategy.

NBC comprises server and dual client components. Buy the NBC server and companies get an unlimited licence to the standard client. A more feature-rich client will be available for a "minimal" upgrade fee, Nokia said. The client includes support for English, French, German, Italian and Spanish, Nokia said - echoing an announcement made by Good last July.

The client runs on any handset with Java MDIP 2.0 support, which technically opens it to phones from various vendors, though Nokia is only certifying its own devices for now, specifically the 9300 and 9500 Communicators, and the 6630, 6680, 6681 and 6682 smart phones. The NBC server hooks into Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, but Nokia promised it would "shortly" support Lotus Notes and Domino.

No surprise there: Good said in July it has acquired "assets and people" from wireless data specialist JP Mobile which would help it broaden its server support from Exchange to Domino.

Nokia said it is working with "operators around the world" to help them offer Nokia Business Center via carrier-branded services and client software. The software will also be made available through "accredited resellers". This indirect approach mirrors the approach Good has been moving towards for some time and is now alleged to be embracing entirely.

NBC is scheduled to go on sale in Q4 in the Americas and EMEA, Nokia said. Pilot programmes are going in place in those territories now, and will be joined by pilots in other regions in the fourth quarter. ®

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