Microsoft's newest mobile OS, Windows Mobile 6, was unveiled at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona to much fanfare. The new
version features improved security, tighter integration with Windows Live services and better search features. It's also designed to make viewing emails and documents feel more like a desktop experience; users can edit Word documents and Excel spreadsheets and view PowerPoint presentations. In addition, it's compatible with Windows Mobile 5 applications.
T-Mobile, AT&T, HP, LG Electronics, Motorola, Palm, Samsung, Sprint, Verizon Wireless and Vodafone are all on board to begin shipping smartphones loaded with Windows Mobile 6 in the second quarter of this year.
The new mobile OS is available in three editions: Classic, designed for PDAs without phone functionality; Standard, for non-touchscreen phones; and Professional, for touchscreen models.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, in a company announcement, said the new software is designed to meet the needs of work and life on the go. "A workforce that is both mobile and connected
is becoming essential for business success. That's why we're integrating innovative mobile technologies into all our key products, with Windows Mobile as the centerpiece."
In the nearly two years since Microsoft's last smartphone operating system release, device security has become a top concern of IT managers. Windows Mobile 6 addresses this concern with features such as storage card encryption and the ability to require that users change their passwords frequently.
Meeting the Demand for Corporate IM
Sybase is adding mobile instant messaging (IM) to its enterprise solutions portfolio, a move some analysts say reflects the growing demand for IM in the workplace.
"IM is certainly building up very fast," says Senthil Krishnapillai, manager of product management for Sybase iAnywhere. "The [IM] space is certainly getting more enterprise-friendly."
So friendly that by 2010 Gartner expects 90 percent of users with business email accounts to have IT-controlled IM accounts. It is unclear how many of those accounts will be mobile, but Gartner reports that "as IM traffic becomes increasingly higher in volume and potentially higher in value, organizations will need to adopt enterprise-class IM technologies, as well as IM hygiene services, to ensure efficient, integrated, reliable and secure use of IM technologies."
The IM component Sybase is adding to its Information Anywhere suite can integrate with IBM Lotus Sametime, the Microsoft Live Communication Server, Jabber XCP, Jive Software's Wildfire, Reuters Messaging and other enterprise IM clients. It also provides logging and routing capabilities that ensure compliance with corporate auditing policies.
Sybase officials say the addition of IM to the company's iAnywhere suite addresses demands for increased productivity and collaboration for mobile workers. "Now users in the field can easily determine if their co-workers are online and available," explained Mark Willnerd, VP of iAnywhere, in a company announcement.
Knowing whether a co-worker is online and available can be a valuable tool, particularly in a vertical such as field service. Says Krishnapillai: "The advantage is that [IM] is extended to the mobile device. If I send an email to you, I don't know if you are online or not, or busy. If I could know your status, it would make a big difference. If you are creating a dispatch solution, you can find out if someone is online and send a job out to them."
Krishnapillai says the increasing demand for IM within enterprises prompted Sybase to release this component for its iAnywhere suite. "We felt that email is being used to have regular informal conversations," he notes. "The time is right because all the companies are endorsing IM more and more from an enterprise standpoint.
If you look at news releases and product releases from, say, IBM, they are putting a lot of effort into IM capabilities."
SolidLabs is another company that has put a lot of effort into IM capabilities. In February, the mobile content management provider released GLOW, a tool the company claims is the "first cross-platform mobile chat application with both Java and FlashLite clients."
GLOW lets users chat and exchange IMs with Mac and PC users across platforms and networks, including MSN, ICQ, Yahoo! and AIM. The cross-platform solution frees users from the limitations of most mobile IM services, which depend largely on network compatibility.
FIRST LOOK: itanyplace
OVERVIEW: The year-old ITAnyplace offers an end-to-end platform that extends applications and content to mobile devices. It helps businesses access applications anytime, anywhere, with or without network connectivity, through tools that automate application development.
OFFICES: Headquartered in Rocky Mount, N.C. BUSINESS PARTNERS: IBM, Symbian, Nokia, DB4o, Tech Unified, WURFL.
CUSTOMERS: UP Government, India; Brightworks Interactive; VIEWQUEST; BSNL. www.itanyplace.com
HP Acquires Bitfone, Grows Mobile Business
With its acquisition of Bitfone complete, HP must now focus on growing its mobile enterprise business in order to become more competitive in the device management market.
"Mobile device management is a key component to driving widespread mobile IT deployments," says Dave Rothschild, VP of the Handheld Business Unit, Personal Systems Group, HP. "With the acquisition of Bitfone, HP adds mobile device management to a comprehensive management suite that already includes servers, desktops and notebooks."
The acquisition provides HP with the software tools it needs to help business customers reduce device support costs and smooth device deployments, migration and replacement.
"HP is excited that Bitfone's innovative mobile device management solutions and experience are joining our handheld unit," Rothschild says. "With its world-class software platform, Bitfone will help HP deliver a more compelling mobile experience to customers, as device management is key to driving widespread mobile IT deployments."
HP has said it wants to use Bitfone's technology for enterprise applications. With its technology in-house, HP will now be able to update devices wirelessly with software upgrades or perform remote diagnostics on broken gadgets.
The Bitfone buyout also helps HP better compete in the smartphone market against rivals Motorola, Nokia, Palm and RIM. Jack Gold, founder and principal analyst at Massachusetts-based consulting firm J. Gold Associates, says the acquisition was necessary for HP to remain a viable player in the smartphone device market.
McCain Wants National Public Safety Network
U.S. Senator and Republican presidential candidate John McCain has introduced legislation that would create a nationwide communications network for police officers, firefighters and other emergency first responders.
The network would be created by licensing an additional 30 MHz of radio spectrum in the upper 700 MHz band to a Public Safety Broadband Trust, which would provide first responders with seamless nationwide roaming capacity and allow for the real-time transmission of data.
"It is now time to think big and bold and solve the interoperability crisis once and for all," said McCain. "We can provide more of the 700 MHz spectrum to solve our national public safety communications crisis and greatly enhance our emergency preparedness."
The CTIA, however, argues that first responders need more funding and better access to equipment and coordination rather than more spectrum. Jot Carpenter, VP of governmental affairs for the CTIA, claims the public safety community currently uses 47 MHz of spectrum to meet its needs--about the same amount of spectrum wireless carriers use to deliver voice, data and advanced information services to consumers. Wireless carriers would like to purchase the 700 MHz spectrum for advanced wireless data services. "More spectrum is clearly not the answer," says Carpenter.
For McCain, the answer lies in The 9/11 Commission Report, which concluded that first responders had trouble making "command and control" decisions during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center because they could not communicate properly with rescuers inside the towers. The report recommends "expedited and increased assignment of radio spectrum to public safety entities."