Wireless Focus on E-Mail

SAN MATEO (07/21/2000) - The Unwired Universe 2000 conference in San Francisco next week will see a number of wireless solution providers eschew glitz in favor of wireless basics, including access to e-mail.

The conference, created by Phone.com Inc., an Internet-based software and services company for wireless devices in Redwood City, Calif., will highlight companies launching products and services mainly for WAP (Wireless Application Protocol)-enabled devices.

Lotus Development Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., will announce Mobile Notes Getting Started, a program geared toward helping companies deploy Lotus Notes on WAP phones that will be run by the Lotus Professional Services (LPS) division.

The wireless version of Notes will allow users to access Lotus Domino Notes servers in real time, rather than having to use synchronization software.

LPS teams will assess a company's hardware, software, and networking infrastructure and make recommendations for said company to deploy wireless Notes e-mail. Pricing is still to be determined, according to a Lotus representative.

Despite the movement to mobilize a workforce with smaller devices -- such as WAP telephones -- as a point of access back to the corporate resources, e-mail is somewhat problematic on small, hard-to-read screens, said Tim Scannell, an industry analyst at Mobile Insights Inc., in Mountain View, Calif.

The long-term solution may be speech technology, Scannell said.

Another approach to e-mail access will be taken by Wireless ASP (application service provider) Astata, in New York. The company will launch a service, called EZ Print and E-Attach, that will allow users of mobile devices, such as WAP phones and PDAs (personal digital assistants), to read e-mail attachments on the screen or print the attachments to a fax machine, officials said.

The capability to print an attachment to a fax machine is important for formats that are difficult to read on small screens, Astata officials said.

"An Excel spreadsheet will be hard to read on a small screen," said Ken Nelson, president and CEO of Astata. "With this service you can send an entire document to a fax to print it out and it will retain the formats."

Astata said it plans to support IP printing and Bluetooth connectivity in the future, which will allow users to print to a wide variety of devices.

Also addressing a stumbling block to wireless e-mail, Infinite Technologies Inc.'s Infinite.com, based in Owings Mills, Md., will announce for its InterChange WAP E-Mail Gateway a voice reply feature that attempts to overcome the hassle of inputting text messages on small devices. The feature will allow users to record a real-time voice reply to an e-mail message, have it instantly converted to a .wav file, and returned to the sender as a voice reply, Infinite.com officials said.

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