In a renewed grab for a bigger slice of the enterprise mobility pie, Nokia has announced three new built-for-business phones and unveiled a new version of its server-based Mobile Suite platform.
Opening the Showcase Nokia 2007 event in Bangkok, held in sync with the 3GSM conference in Barcelona, the Finnish phone supremo staked its claim on the continued growth in the business mobility market.
This will fuel its forthcoming battle with Microsoft as the software giant and its partners roll out a new wave of smartphones based on Windows Mobile 6 and hooking into Exchange Server 2007, which Microsoft this week released to manufacturing.
At the same time, Nokia wants to woo enterprise customers and medium-sized businesses away from RIM's iconic BlackBerry with the lure of smarter handsets and device-agnostic messaging software.
-We have a complete and compelling mobile strategy that is focused on removing the barriers to widespread adoption of business mobility," said Urpo Karjalainen, Nokia's senior vice president for customer and market operations in Asia-Pacific.
-We are out to change the way people experience work in a mobile world, by helping them connect to almost any device and over virtually any network to access the information they need."
The cornerstone of Karjalainen's -any device" boast is Intellisync Mobile Suite 8.0, released almost a year to the day that Nokia acquired Intellisync on 10 February, 2006. Nokia subsequently merged Intellisync with its Nokia Business Centre mobile e-mail platform.
While the mobile e-mail solutions of Microsoft and RIM are tied to a specific family of devices, Intellisync Mobile Suite 8.0 works with almost any smartphone or PDA communicator device running the Palm, Windows Mobile or Symbian operating systems.
More crucially, basic e-mail functionality is extended to any phone which can run the Java-based J2ME (Java Platform, Micro Edition), including Nokia's mass-market handsets running on its Series40 platform.
This first new version of Intellisync Mobile Suite to arrive on Nokia's watch will be offered under a modular licensing model with wireless e-mail, file sync and application sync components all sitting atop a device management layer. Customers can implement one service at a time to a set number of users, and roll out additional enhancements as their needs or adoption plans change.
Each Intellisync server will include an unlimited licence for rolling out a Base client through which users can compose, read and reply to e-mail.
An extra-cost Professional client will add calendar and contact synchronisation and the editing and forwarding of file attachments using a licensed version of QuickOffice.
Intellisync Mobile Suite platform is priced at US$2,999 for the server software (including unlimited licences for the Basic e-mail service) plus US$129 per user for the Professional client.
Nokia also launched the second generation of its successful E-series business phones. Headlining the trio is the E90 Communicator, an all-in-one "mobile office" handset with support for Wi-Fi and HSDPA-enhanced 3G with integrated GPS and route mapping. The E90 will hit broad availability during the third quarter of this year.
A refresh for the company's "BlackBerry killer" E61 has resulted in the slimmer and more stylish E61i, which replaces the E61's five-way navigation key with a tiny touchpad while adding consumer-friendly touches such as a media player and two megapixel digital camera. The E61i will touch down by mid-year.
Further crossing over from workdays to weekends is the all-new Nokia E65, with its "slim slider" design and choice of cafÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â© black or flash red chassis, is due to appear in stores later this month.
Nokia is also using its Showcase 2007 event to provide the first regional preview of the N800 Internet tablet (below), a slim Linux-powered slab with a 4.1 inch touchscreen display. Perhaps oddly for a product coming from Nokia, the N800 lacks a mobile phone -- Internet connectivity is via any handy Wi-Fi network or over a Bluetooth link to your mobile phone.
The N800 will be rolled out throughout the Asia-Pacific region in the next two months, although it is already available to American customers for US$400.
David Flynn travelled to Bangkok as a guest of Nokia.