Thursday, March 13, 2008

Send Emails from your mobile -- for free!

Mobile phones have plenty of smart functions, most which are unknown or simply irrelevant to the majority of users. The useful applications you really want -- like access to your email, contacts and calendar -- are difficult to set up and costly. So even though almost all mobile phones today could be used for reading email, very few people do that.In short, emailing from a mobile phone in America has so far been limited mainly to expensive smart phones -- until now. Funambol an Italian company based in Milan, intends to offer a new email service in the U.S. that is free and easy to use.

The system will work with SyncML, a software program that is pre-installed on most mobile phones from such manufacturers as Motorola, Nokia and SonyEricsson.
Mobile email for free? Is there a catch?Indeed there is. Funambol, which has an office in Redwood City, California, on the northern edge of Silicon Valley, wants users of its email system to watch small ads when they send and receive. The idea is that ad revenues will cover the service cost.
Funambol already has a customer base of one million people, mostly in Japan. The service is free and Funambol is now in talks with American telecom carriers on how much they will charge for transmitting the data between the company server and the mobile phone. Says Hal Steger, vice president in charge of marketing: “Operators can make the data free, and we hope that this at least will be the case with new operators that have nothing to lose.”
All a user must do is register his or her phone number at an Internet portal, after which a SMS with the configuration code is sent to the mobile phone.
The software is open source, which means it can be downloaded at the company website for further development.
“Forty thousand developers have already downloaded our software," says Mr. Steger, who showed off Funambol's email service at the OSiM conference on "mobile open source" in San Francisco on Wednesday.In an interview, Mr. Steger shows a world map provided by Google Analytics that indicates where downloads have gone -- mostly to India and China. These two countries are likely to generate the largest demand in future for mobile email. India alone has 225 million mobile phones, more than even in the U.S.
Mr. Steger says there have been two million downloads of the program. That suggests that the system is well tested.
Funambol's software works with Mcrosoft's Exchange Server, which is used by many companies for corporate email. In the near future, Mr. Steger says Funambol will also announce important business deals with the mobile phone company Nokia and the content provider AOL:“But it will take a couple of more years before the development really starts going," estimates Mr Steger.

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