HP challenges RIM on mobile email

A strategic partnership between Microsoft and HP may force the Blackberry maker to 'revise its business model'

Hewlett-Packard (HP) has launched new mobile email and management services as part of a strategic partnership with Microsoft.

HP's managed email service will include mobile email client and server software deployment and installation, end user support, and an IT help desk, the company said at its Mobility Summit in San Francisco.

The tie-up is part of Microsoft's "push email" iniative for Windows Mobile 5.0 which could spell bad news for providers like Research in Motion (RIM), according to HP.

"For all software and service vendors with a business model like RIM, free Microsoft push email is a threat. In fact it's more than a threat. They need to revise their business model," said Alberto Bozzo, vice-president of commercial products for HP's personal systems group.

"Not only is this giant offering push email for free, previously large corporations were uncomfortable with sending emails and intellectual property outside the company firewall to be held in RIM's network operation centre (NOC)," he told ZDNet UK.

"Now, with Windows Mobile 5.0 on an Exchange server, email is pushed straight to the device without having to go through a NOC.

"For us it's good news. Microsoft were looking for a strategic partner to help them gain access to volume. Of course we will continue to support our existing push email partners, Good and Seven."

HP's mobile device management service can handle a variety of machines and handhelds on a global basis, according to Geraldine Rossiter, program director for HP mobile services.

"We've created a single global email platform and management service for mobile devices. Over-the-air updates add to safety, and if devices are lost or damaged the data can be wiped," said Rossiter.

Dave Rothschild, vice-president of handheld business for HP's personal systems group, said prosumers buying mobile devices are fuelling the mobile mail infrastructure.

"Mobile email is the killer app pulling a lot of the demand [for managed services]," he said.

Victor Garcia, chief technology officer for HP Canada, agreed mobile email is one of the killer apps, but said mobile business applications would also grow rapidly.

"Businesses want to follow the money," said Garcia. "Cashflow, orders, invoicing, inspections, filing information about a service call -- anything that impacts sales and revenue. Businesses want to address [that]. Mobile technology can take days off invoicing processes."