Nokia takes on Blackberry as wireless mobility set to explode

Of all the technologies IT managers will be assessing in 2005 wireless continues to rate as the most influential as organizations implement strategies to mobilize their workforce.

Wireless is so critical now because companies want their employees to have unrestricted access to email.

Gartner analyst Bob Hafner estimates employees spend as much as 60 percent of their working day on e-mail, a workflow process that has driven the popularity of devices such as BlackBerry.

"Eventually e-mail will be like voice, it will go everywhere; within five years all devices will have wireless e-mail," Hafner said adding that the market is still searching for the right devices to mobilize their workforce.

While e-mail can be viewed on a smartphone, Hafner said a response usually required a follow-up telephone call while e-mail on PDAs is usually restricted to 'yes, no or maybe' replies unless there is a detachable keyboard.

With demand likely to explode in the next couple of years, enterprises can expect plenty of new wireless broadband offerings in coming months, Gartner analyst Robin Simpson said.

"The real-time, agile organization of the future will be a mobile, wireless enterprise, but business wants broadband at rates of 200KB/sec at the very minimum," he said.

"GPRS is dead and currently there aren't enough Wi-Fi hotspots; nobody wants to go to McDonalds to check their e-mail."

Expecting huge growth in wireless adoption next year, Nokia has launched Communicator 9500 which will have 100 different enterprise applications by the end of the year.

While corporate interest in these devices has been driven by the need to access e-mail, Nokia enterprise solutions product marketing manager Matt Court describes the 9500 as an "office in your pocket", because it has access to a broad range of apps from CRM to an Oracle database.

He said Nokia has formed alliances with the likes of IBM and Oracle to extend enterprise apps to the 9500 and also inked agreements with Symantec to provide users with antivirus and a personal firewall in addition to Pointsec for encryption.

Users can also run presentations from the device which has a wireless printer driver that requires a Bluetooth adaptor to run it on a projector. Recognizing the popularity of BlackBerry in the executive set, Court said the 9500 will have a BlackBerry client by February 2005 - the same month Nokia launches Communicator 9300.

"The 9500 is more suited to senior executives while the 9300 is a trimmed-down version for the rest of the workforce," he said.

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