With the landmark judgement against Research in Motion (RIM), a Canadian Company and the providers of the Blackberry PDA, for patent infringement in 2006 and an award of US$612.5 Million in favour of NTP Inc, a Virginia based company, it seems safe to say that the technology of push email was pioneered by NTP and not RIM as widely believed. Even as at the time of filing in this report, there is an existing suit filed against Apple, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft and Motorola for infringement of wireless email patents.
Not withstanding, the initial setback, it is a fact that RIM has been able to create a niche for itself in the wireless email sector, so much that its Blackberry product has become synonymous with Push email. They hold the ace and all other push email providers we will discuss in this write-up only try to attain the standards set by this company.
There are many solutions available and each uses a slightly different approach. However, most mobile solutions do not use a true push-model but employ a pull-model whereby the clients pull emails from the server at set intervals instead of having the mails pushed to the device from the server.
This is targeted at Nokia phones and is different from the inbuilt email client that came with most Nokia Symbian phones. Point your phone browsers to email.nokia.com or visit the ovi store to have a feel of this software. Chances are that after installation, while trying to configure your email accounts, you would receive error messages like “Unable to connect”. If you can get it to work (No Guarantees and i wonder why!), you are assured of a maximum of 10 email accounts on your phone and overall better services than the inbuilt client
Next in line is system Seven (www.seven.com), my favourite. It supports a wide variety of devices including Symbian v3 and v5 phones,UIQv3, Palm, Windows Mobile, Android and Java based phones. It comes in three variants, Consumer, Workgroup and Enterprise editions. The Workgroup and Enterprise editions support corporate emails on Microsoft Exchange, Lotus and POP3 servers only with the aid of desktop connectors. It does not support IMAP access and free emails like gmail, unlike the Consumer edition. All variants offer Inbox, sent folders, subfolders ,calendar and contact synchronization.
Emoze (www.emoze.com) offers similar services on varied platforms but its enterprise edition is not free. Also, sub folder synchronization is not supported for the free versions.
Mention should also be made of the Gmail Java app. This is restricted to google email but it allows for multiple accounts and it syncs sub-folders. This app has the advantage of being compatible with most phones that allow java app installation. I consider it a must have for everyone, to be used in conjunction with other clients.
Blackberry Connect is the name given to RIM’s licensing scheme which allows other manufacturers to include ‘Blackberry Functionality’ on their devices. Connect is a stripped down implementation of the Blackberry stack, and so does not support all of the product features that are available in Blackberry. As the connect is an application that integrates with the device Operating System, if the device OS is slow or doesn’t have enough memory then the Blackberry experience is equally crippled. My summation is, “if you have to eat a frog, eat the one that has eggs”. Whoever coined that phrase! My advice? Go for the real thing!
Other email solutions with less desirable features include Mobile Documents , Movamail and Mobiquus.
In conclusion, one thing that all these clients have in common as a limitation in Nigeria is that the always on facility is not guaranteed, no thanks to the sub-par services provided by our GSM companies. The email clients are not always connected to the email servers due to frequent data outages, preventing these clients from pulling mails from email servers at set intervals.
Comments, contributions and criticisms welcomed!