Nokia: BlackBerry isn't the enemy

The target for Nokia's 2007 business mobility strategy isn't the BlackBerry -- it's the millions of inboxes and corporate foot soldiers ignored by the push e-mail revolution.

The target for Nokia's 2007 business mobility strategy isn't the BlackBerry -- it's the millions of inboxes and corporate foot soldiers ignored by the push e-mail revolution.

Think of it as bringing business mobility to the working masses, suggests Mathia Nalappan, Nokia Asia Pacific vice president for Enterprise Solutions.

mathia nalappan, nokia

Speaking at the company's Showcase Nokia 2007 event in Bangkok recently, Nalappan told ZDNet Australia that his goal was to transform -mobile e-mail into SMS for the enterprise".

-When you look at the enterprise e-mail space today, most deployment is at the C-level and middle managers, the busy mobile executives. But they represent less than 2 percent of the total number of e-mail inboxes. The rest belong to less mobile mid-level managers and the masses below them, so there's still 98 percent of the market that is wide open to us."

Nalappan said that while Nokia's E61 phone had helped snare existing BlackBerry customers, -as it's not only a BlackBerry-type of device but it runs BlackBerry Connect software", the company's strategy was to chase -mass adoption in the enterprise". This means unlocking those 98 percent of e-mail inboxes that belong to users which Nokia describes as "skimmers".

-These are people who just want to read e-mails and then take action," Nalappan explained. -They are mostly read-only users who are occasionally connected and using lower-end devices. They're the low-hanging fruit. But from a productivity viewpoint, this market is the key to expanding business mobility beyond the corner office."

Yet the sheer size of this user base is considered one of the main barriers to putting expensive devices such as a BlackBerry on every hip or in every pocket.

Nokia's hope is to capture that market with a deft pincer movement comprising of the Intellisync Mobile Suite 8.0 "mobileware" platform and new handsets including a modest "fleet" phone for the masses.

He claimed the Intellisync Mobile Suite 8.0 was a -solution than can mobilise the entire company" thanks to a simplified client which can be installed on almost any mobile device, from slick smartphones to regular handsets capable of running the Java-based J2ME mobile platform.

However, the suite's device-agnostic appeal will be partnered with the lure of mobile device management.

-Even if you're already a BlackBerry user, we believe you'll look at taking on Intellisync Mobile Suite because it delivers superior device management for all your mobile devices. Hopefully these will be Nokia devices but they can also be Windows Mobile for example, yet you can manage them all from a single console.

-Over-the-air deployment is another part of this. There's no way you can cope with the large geography in Australia or many other countries if you have to bring all the devices back to the company to install the client. So this is a multi-prong approach for us."

And while the built-for-business E series of mobile phones will take centre stage in every business pitch, Nokia will also include the new 3110 Classic handset as an appealing option for extending e-mail to almost everyone bar the tea lady.

As its name indicates, the 3110 Classic revisits the original Nokia 3110, which proved to be one of the company's best-selling handsets and is still in wide use today. -You can still see 3110s all over the place," claimed Matt Rothschild, Nokia Asia-Pacific Business Mobiles product marketing head. -They're scratched and battered and obviously worse for wear, but they're still on the job."

The updated model mimics the simple design of the original through to its use of the familiar Series40 operating system, albeit the latest version 3.0 release. This of course makes the 3310 Classic compatible with the Intellisync Mobile Suite 8.0 client.

However, the handset also sports modern conveniences such as a digital camera, FM radio and Bluetooth, which Rothschild says will be a key driver for company-wide upgrades.

-Our corporate customers are moving to Bluetooth-enabled car kits. Unlike hands-free kits designed for a specific brand or model of phone, they don't need to upgrade these every time the handset changes, because there's no physical connection to the phone."

David Flynn travelled to Bangkok as a guest of Nokia.