Motorola brings Good to Asia

Comms giant launches Good Technology enterprise mobile messaging service in Asia, in a move that an analyst says could challenge competitor RIM.

SINGAPORE--Motorola announced Thursday the Asian launch of its enterprise mobile messaging tool--a move which an analyst said could pose a challenge to rival Research In Motion (RIM).

Dubbed Good Mobile Messaging 5 (Good 5), the messaging service has been available to customers in the United States for seven years but was never launched in the Asian region. Motorola acquired the technology from its purchase of Good Technology in November 2006.

Neil Hooper, vice president of global sales for Motorola's Good Technology group, said in an interview that to date, users have only been able to use the service here by buying it directly from resellers in the United States. Motorola spent the last six months discussing and training 1,000 resellers in the Asia-Pacific region, who will make the mobile messaging service available in early-April, Hooper said.

In Singapore, Good 5 will be launched through local telco SingTel, and regional distributor Ingram Micro Asia. Hooper declined to provide further details on other telcos the company is working with in the region.

Taking on BlackBerry
Shalini Verma, IDC Asia-Pacific communications research manager, said Good's security portfolio could pose a challenge for RIM's popular BlackBerry service.

"[RIM] will get questions from corporations on how they can compete on the security front, and they will have to furnish CIOs with that information," said Verma, in an interview with ZDNet Asia.

Hooper said he is confident on battling the BlackBerry-maker on two fronts: being device-agnostic and more focused on security. "We are focused on the financial services vertical, because that has traditionally been the most security-conscious industry," he said.

Because RIM's services are tied to its proprietary handsets, Hooper said this may be prohibitive to companies that want to choose different models to keep costs down.

Verma noted that for Motorola is in a better position to capture other verticals outside the financial sector after the Good acquisition, since the company can now leverage the latter's reseller and channel partner network.

However, she said, RIM might have already preempted the impending competition. She added that the BlackBerry maker had been expanding its application support and roping in more developers via its BlackBerry Alliance Program.

Verma said: "They know it's not just an e-mail game but also [about] mobile applications, and they're moving in that direction."

According to figures from Gartner, RIM captured 18.1 percent of the global PDA market in May 2007, shipping over 20 million BlackBerry smartphones since its launch.

Hooper said Motorola has expanded its local sales and support teams for Good, as well as setting up a dedicated engineering team. Most of its new headcount this year will be concentrated in Asia, said Hooper, adding that this includes the transfer of senior Good management from the United States to this region.

He did not say how big the Good team is in the region, but said the company is still looking to hire.

Motorola also made "significant investment" in enabling double-byte support, said Hooper. Double-byte capability allows devices to read and write in script languages, such as Chinese and Japanese.

Good 5 will be available in the region through resellers and some carriers, and will be supported by handsets including Motorola, HTC, Palm and Samsung.