Gun­ning for the ex­ec­u­tive’s wal­let

Ven­dors square up to cap­ture mindshare

Finweek English Edition - - Communication & technology - CHIMWEMWE MWANZA

THE PIN­NA­CLE OF TELE­COMS and tech­nol­ogy ex­hi­bi­tions is when ven­dors pa­rade their wares to at­tract the high-end of the cor­po­rate mar­ket. And the re­cent 3GSM congress held in Barcelona was no ex­cep­tion.

Be­yond doubt, the cor­po­rate mar­ket’s grow­ing ac­cep­tance of push-based mo­bile en­ter­prise ap­pli­ca­tions has cre­ated a mar­ket for ven­dors such as re­search in mo­tion (RIM), Nokia and Mo­torola to ply their trade. Ar­guably, RIM’s flag­ship Black­berry has stepped up to the plate to emerge in the cor­po­rate field as the pre­ferred de­vice for mo­bile email so­lu­tions. Mon­ica Bassa, an an­a­lyst at re­search house Gart­ner, per­haps best sums up Black­berry’s iconic sta­tus by say­ing that it’s still per­ceived in de­vel­oped mar­kets as the as­pi­ra­tional brand that no self-re­spect­ing mid­dle ex­ec­u­tive would want to be seen with­out.

RIM stole the show at the just ended 3GSM congress to an­nounce its latest ad­di­tion to the Black­berry fam­ily. As a fol­low-up to the suc­cess of its Pearl de­vice, the group un­veiled the Black­berry 8800. “Not only does the 8800 boast en­hanced fea­tures, it’s kind of a grownup ver­sion of the old one,” says James Hart, RIM’s MD in charge of Europe Mid­dle East and Africa (EMEA). True to Hart’s de­scrip­tion, the 8800 has re­tained some fea­tures of the pre­vi­ous de­vice such as a qw­erty key­board. But the new killer fea­tures likely to catch the eye of a trav­el­ling ex­ec­u­tive in­clude a built-in global po­si­tion­ing sys­tem (GPS), which uses Black­berry, maps for nav­i­ga­tion and lo­ca­tion-based ser­vices and a mi­croSD ex­pand­able me­mory card slot. “Let’s sim­ply put it this way, it’s a full house gad­get fit for a wired ex­ec­u­tive,” says Hart.

Mo­torola duly re­sponded to RIM’s latest of­fer­ing by an­nounc­ing the ex­pan­sion of its Q range with the avail­abil­ity of Moto Q 9 and Moto Q GSM. “Don’t ask me if the Moto Q 9 and Q GSM are bet­ter than the Black­berry 8800 be­cause my an­swer will be ob­vi­ous,” chuck­les Bi­lal Saleh, Mo­torola’s di­rec­tor in charge of ap­pli­ca­tion ser­vices for EMEA. The Q 9 runs on the re­cently an­nounced Mi­cro- soft Win­dows Mo­bile 6 plat­form and uses Mo­torola’s mo­bile mes­sag­ing tech­nol­ogy. The phone fea­tures a side-load re­mov­able mi­croSD port in ad­di­tion to its 256Mb of on-board me­mory as well as USB 2.0 for PC con­nec­tiv­ity. Among its fea­tures, the Q GSM boasts GPRS and EDGE, and like its sib­ling, runs on Mi­crosoft Win­dows Mo­bile 6.

Nokia, which de­spite be­ing the world’s largest hand­set man­u­fac­turer, has largely lurked in the shadow of RIM’s Black­berry in the Smart­phone wars, re­sponded to the im­mi­nent ar­rival of RIM’s latest of­fer­ing by launch­ing a se­ries of de­vices. They in­clude the E61i, a slim­mer ver­sion of its pre­de­ces­sor, but slightly bet­ter in that it boasts im­proved email ca­pa­bil­ity. Then there is the E65, a slider phone with a slim profile that’s in­tended for leisure as well as the work­place and the E90, the re­place­ment for the leg­endary Nokia com­mu­ni­ca­tors.

Fit for a wired ex­ec­u­tive. The New Black­berry 8800

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