Motorola set to leverage Good in competitive e-mail market

Motorola Good Technology Group this week plans to take its first serious swipe at Research In Motion Ltd’s dominance of the mobile e-mail space.

The Motorola Inc. subsidiary is expected to unveil an upgraded version of its flagship product for road warriors and other high-end business users. The new version, slated for a September release, incorporates features traditionally found on desktop services such as Microsoft Corp.’s Outlook, allowing users to prioritize messages, invite colleagues to meetings and sort e-mails by conversation threads from their phones.

“The release of Good 5.0 is something we’ve been working on at Good for quite some time,” said Rick Osterloh, Good’s vice president of marketing and product management. “For the past couple of years, one of the things we’ve been hearing from our customers is that they were having to make a lot of compromises in their mobile e-mail experience, both from IT (personnel) and end users. The end users’ experience on the mobile device is not something they’ve been able to make do exactly what they want to make it do.”

Motorola picked up Good Technology late last year in a cash deal rumored to be worth $500 million. The move came amid a flurry of consolidation activity in the space that also saw Nokia Corp. snap up Intellisync Corp. for $430 million. The acquisitions raised the stakes in what analysts say is a still-untapped market for high-powered mobile e-mail—a market that RIM continues to dominate with its BlackBerry device and platform.

The market leader shows no signs of slowing down: shares of RIM edged higher last week after an analyst predicted a strong first quarter, and the company seems to have a hit on its hands with the new Curve handset. But Sybase iAnywhere, a competitor in the high-end mobile e-mail market, next week plans to announce an upgrade to their M-Business anywhere offering. Meanwhile, Nokia is gearing up for battle as it integrates Intellisync’s business, and Microsoft continues to quietly gain ground.

Good gained traction both through carrier channels and with a direct-to-consumer strategy. The company’s service is available in the United States through AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp.; other carrier customers include Bell Canada and Australia’s Telstra.

The company’s newest offering allows users to securely access corporate intranets to download, edit and send documents, and includes personalization features such as RSS feeds and prioritized contacts. But Motorola is marketing the offering to IT personnel as a safe and efficient way to manage a host of wireless devices. Good 5 includes “mandatory application enforcement,” ensuring devices on the network adhere to corporate policies by—for instance—using anti-virus software. The technology can automatically disable Bluetooth or cameras if a specific business requires it, and can block text messaging or other “unauditable” applications in adherence with federal financial regulations.

“This is the kind of thing that IT has been asking for for a while, but in the past haven’t been able to do,” said Osterloh. “IT hasn’t been getting more resources to deal with (mobile). Some of the more advanced companies are beginning to add directors of mobility, starting to add folks who are wireless specialists, but it’s only the beginning of a trend vs. the end of a trend.”

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