Nokia launches low-tech wireless email

The new service relies on SMS and voice recognition to provide international access to corporate data

Nokia has launched a corporate messaging service that, in a twist on the usual pattern in high-tech, avoids cutting-edge acronyms such as GPRS and 3G. Instead, the selling point of Nokia One, which was more than four years in the making, is that it is based on tried-and-true technologies such as text messaging and GSM, the basic standard for most of the world's mobile phones.

Nokia One does support WAP and voice recognition, but the company sees most customers accessing the service via a skill common among European teenagers, namely text messaging. It offers access to corporate calendar, email and directory information on platforms from Lotus, Microsoft and others, which Nokia says is all that is required by 71 percent of mobile workers.

"At the moment IT managers have to make difficult choices about which technologies to support. But the only (wireless) technologies that are really reliable are voice and SMS (short messaging service)," said Timo Pakkala, head of the Nokia One venture. "If you want international access they are what you have to use."

Users can retrieve their email or other data via voice-activated commands or a mobile WAP browser, or by sending simple requests to a designated number.

Nokia said that the service, which was formally launched this week, already has several thousand users. Companies subscribing to the service include manufacturing and pharmaceuticals companies, as well as computing companies such as Fujitsu, according to Gerhard Romen, head of marketing for Nokia One.

Nokia provides the service on a per-head subscription basis, without any long-term obligations. "Companies have been going through the pain of deciding why they should invest in implementing wireless technologies," said Pakkala. "We want to change that from 'Why do it?' to 'Why not?'"

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