Symbian smartphones get email, photo services

T-Mobile has launched always-on email for Symbian devices in the UK, while Kodak will help get your handset's photos onto the Web
Written by Matthew Broersma, Contributor

Symbian OS-based smartphones are getting two new wireless services: an always-on email offering for personal and corporate customers, and a photo-sharing service aimed at consumers.

The new offerings underscore the diversity of the market targeted by Symbian and its licensees, which include most major mobile phone manufacturers. While some "smart" wireless devices, such as Research In Motion's BlackBerry or Palm's Tungsten W are closely focused on enterprises, Symbian's handsets are designed to appeal to consumers as well as mobile workers.

Wireless network operator T-Mobile launched the wireless email service, called Instant E-mail, in the UK last week. It is based on software from Canada's Infowave Software called Symmetry Express, which currently offers access only to personal email based on POP3 protocols, such as standard Internet service provider email or Hotmail.

Symmetry Express supports any handset based on Symbian OS 6.1 or 7.0, which includes smartphones such as the Sony Ericsson P800 and Nokia's 6350 and 7650. Those handsets already include email software, but the user is required to connect to a mailbox and retrieve email manually over a GPRS connection.

The Symmetry software pushes email automatically to the handset, a feature that has become popular with devices such as the BlackBerry. Infowave said it is also porting its corporate Symmetry software to the Symbian platform, which will provide instant access to Exchange-based email.

Symmetry also runs on platforms such as the Palm OS and Microsoft's Pocket PC and Windows for Smartphones, and Infowave said it plans to work with other mobile phone operators besides T-Mobile outside the UK.

On the consumer side, Kodak has struck a deal with Nokia allowing its smartphone users in Europe to upload images to Kodak's Picture Center Online Web site, where they can be stored, shared or turned into prints.

Kodak and Nokia are also working on printing services such as kiosks that will allow smartphone users to instantly print their photos, a continuation of an earlier collaboration in the Asia-Pacific area. In that region, Kodak has already rolled out more than 1,500 Picture Maker kiosks, which allow users to turn their digital photos into traditional prints, stickers or calendars.

Digital-photo printing has become a big business with the proliferation of digital cameras. The addition of built-in cameras to mobile phones has added to the trend, with the number of camera phones shipped set to surpass stand-alone digital cameras this year. IDC expects 35 million camera phones to ship this year, compared with 33 million digital cameras.

Kodak's service will work with Nokia's 3650, 7650 and 6600 camera phones, using file-uploading software that will be bundled with the handsets. The service has launched first in Europe, later to be extended to Asia-Pacific; Kodak already offers photo uploads for 3650 users in the US through its Ofoto service.

Symbian's main rival in the smartphone operating system market is Microsoft, whose Smartphone software replicates the experience of Windows applications such as Word and Internet Explorer in a mobile device.

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