Sproqit, a small US start-up, is challenging the might of the BlackBerry by launching an application on Monday that allows users to access desktop applications, including Outlook, on their mobile device.
Sproqit Personal Edition costs £8 per user per month, and will go on sale from mid-October. A workgroup version should follow before the end of 2004, with an enterprise product for large companies planned for release in spring 2005.
Peter Mansour, Sproqit's founder and chief executive, claims that his company's software makes it significantly easier to get remote access to a PC.
"This is a thin client that acts like a fat client," Mansour said. Unlike Research in Motion, which uses a 'store and forward' mechanism to send email to its BlackBerry device, Sproqit's software links the mobile device directly to the PC back at home or the office.
Before information can be exchanged, both the desktop PC and the mobile device must initiate a connection with the Sproqit server. This leads to the creation of a secure connection directly between them.
Sproqit will host the server itself for Personal Edition users. Firms who buy either of the forthcoming corporate products will be able to install and run the application on their own internal systems.
In a demonstration, Mansour showed that a Sproqit user can quickly access emails, document files and contact information from his or her PC. Rather than sending the whole file, Sproqit just transmits the sections that the user chooses to view. This should cut down on the amount of data that has to be sent, speeding up the process.
Analyst firm Gartner reported last month that 80 percent of employees will use wireless email by 2008. Recent figures showed that Research in Motion's BlackBerry is proving particularly popular with mobile workers, with European sales more than doubling over the last year.
Faced with this powerful competition, Sproqit has already signed a deal with palmOne that will see its Personal Edition ship on every Handspring Treo600. Mansour said that he was in talks with other device manufacturers.