Nextel launches wireless application service

Nextel Communications launched at Sun Microsystems' JavaOne developer conference here this week the Mobile Application Manager, a private application portal for companies to store, distribute, and manage corporate applications over wireless connections.

The service updates Nextel's iDEN Update service, which currently offers consumers more than 60 J2ME applications for download to its Java-enabled Motorola Inc. phones. iDEN is a Motorola trademark for its Java voice and data phones.

Mobile Application Manager allows a company to make available an unlimited number of its applications using third-party ISVs (independent software vendors) or a private site hosted by Nextel. Once Nextel phones are deployed to a mobile workforce, the network manager designates which phones can access the site, executives explained.

Once the system is running, employees can be notified by the network administrator via text messages when a new application is available or an upgrade to a currently deployed application should be downloaded. Following notification, the user can go to his company's Nextel site and download the application.

The Nextel service will allow administrators to track upgrades for version control and to manage devices such as tracking which users have what model phones and the software limitations of certain models.

Companies will be charged about US$3 to $5 per handset, per month, according to Bob Ewald, director of wireless data services at Nextel, in Reston, Va. The service is in pilot now and will roll out before the end of the second quarter.

In related news, Nextel announced on Monday the launch of two new applications to its packet data network. Digital Cyclone will provide current, nine-hour and seven-day forecasts as well as severe weather alerts using animated Doppler radar feeds. The application is targeted as the construction industry and other companies that are affected by weather conditions.

Also launched this week is MidCast V1, a financial application that streams financial data including stock prices, price changes, volumes, highs, lows, and other data.

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