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News and analysis of developments in the enterprise communication industry and market with primary focus on Europe.

The author aims to tap into ideas, insights and thoughts of the readers to get varied perspectives.

Views expressed in this blog are solely the author's opinion and in no way reflect those of his employer.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Executive Summary of European Wireless E-Mail Markets

Late last year, I researched the wireless e-mail markets in Europe. Many of you have helped me with your mails. As a note of thanks, I am reproducing a summary of the study. To access the complete report, please contact Nils Frenkel by writing to nils.frenkel@frost.com

Wireless E-mail is one of the largest segments in the mobile enterprise application market. The installed base continues to grow as new customers deploy the solution and those with deployments expand their footprint. Transitioning from a ‘nice to have’ to ‘must have’ application, there is a growing market momentum among end-users to formulate mobility strategies centered on wireless e-mail. Organisations see a wider scope in the use of wireless e-mail technologies. The capability to push and pull data between mobile devices and the back-end servers creates new application areas for the technology. Surveys indicate that CIOs consider mobilising enterprise applications (especially e-mail) as one of their key priorities. However the value-chain for delivery and access continues to be plagued with serious challenges. Nonetheless optimism in the market suggests a steep growth opportunity in the number of business users.

Research in Motion’s growth and its efforts in creating wider market awareness have led to a flurry of new entrants. There are several specialist vendors and niche players offering enterprise and consumer grade solutions. The key entities in the industry include the E-mail vendors, device manufacturers, mobile application platform suppliers and specialist players. E-mail vendors such as IBM Lotus, Novell GroupWise and Mirapoint look to follow Microsoft’s strategy to extend e-mail capabilities to wireless devices. Device manufacturers such as Nokia, Motorola and Samsung are investing to bring in new devices with the capabilities to support mobile applications such as wireless e-mail. A number of specialist vendors vie for growth opportunities in this lucrative segment. Several crucial stakeholders have taken measures to consolidate the industry. Acquisitions by Sybase (iAnywhere), Nokia (Intellisync) and Motorola (Good Technologies) are some cases in point. Specialist vendors and solution providers such as CommonTime, DMESync, Fenestrae, Funambol, LRW Digital, Notify Technology and OpenHand continue to play a crucial role in the market development. Mobile operators find themselves in an enviable position in this market. Several operators across Europe, such as Vodafone, T-Mobile, O2 and TIM now offer a breadth of solutions targeted to specific market segments. This is aided by the growth in white-labelled offers from vendors such as Consilient, CriticalPath, Funambol, Oz Communications, Seven, Synchronica and Visto, amongst several others.

The success of Blackberry (BES and NOC services) and the entry of mobile operators in the market have created new opportunity in hosted wireless e-mail solutions especially in the SMB segment of the market. Currently several solution providers and some vendors offer this capability with the help of third-party operators. Several critical factors, including the maturity of the technology, early adopter acceptance, falling prices and affordable packages have helped wireless e-mail application become attractive to the SMB, SoHo and prosumer segment. However ‘behind the firewall’ deployments remain typical amongst enterprises.

One of the reasons for wider market opportunity for this application is the marked change in our work pattern. As our professional lives are increasingly becoming integrated with our personal ones through the use of Internet technologies, our work life is changing. Growing trends of mobile workers, remote working and tele-working have placed out-of-office connectivity as a top priority. The relative pervasiveness of e-mail (except when compared with telephony) makes it crucial for CIOs to match its availability with changing work patterns. Remaining connected at affordable prices and using corporate resources remotely to make intelligent decisions not only improves performance effectiveness, but also leads to competitive differentiation.

Despite such attractiveness CIOs find it prudent to delay implementation decisions in the face of severe challenges. Scalability, unpredictability of operating costs, device & application security, device management, lack of standardisation, future-proofing and limited scope of interoperability in the value chain create road blocks to deployment.

Frost & Sullivan believes that the industry will work towards overcoming these challenges, making investment in wireless e-mail more attractive. We expect to see increased efforts towards standardisation and interoperability. We forecast a strong growth of corporate wireless e-mail users from an installed base of 8.4 million in 2006 to 85.8 million in 2012 in Europe.

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