Synchronica, a provider of mobile e-mail systems to telecommunications companies, has signed up a third network operator in the Arab world, it said yesterday. Much like the BlackBerry system, Synchronica's software lets mobile users receive e-mail instantly on their mobile handset. However, the Synchronica system works on any phone, from the simplest to the most expensive. Carsten Brinkschulte, Synchronica's chief executive, said: "We won the competition for this contract because our solution addresses the entire device landscape, it works on anything.
"No matter what handset someone is using, we can push e-mail to that device in the best possible fashion." Like most of the company's customers, the new Middle-Eastern operator asked not to be identified while its new e-mail service was still in preparation for launch. Synchronica said only that the company was "a leading telecommunications business with more than six million subscribers". Mobile networks that use Synchronica's software typically let users subscribe to the mobile e-mail service for a monthly fee, with some using it as a bonus feature to lure customers on to monthly internet and data packages.
One operator has signed up 20 per cent of its subscriber base to the service in the three years it has been on offer, Mr Brinkschulte said. There are currently more than 150,000 UAE customers signed up to the BlackBerry e-mail service which has become a staple of corporate boardrooms around the world. But Mr Brinkschulte said his company was less interested in competing with BlackBerry than it was in bringing mobile e-mail to hundreds of millions of people in emerging economies who could not afford an expensive handset and a steep monthly fee. Depending on the country, users could access e-mail on their phone through its services for less than US$2 (Dh7.34) a month.
"We're basically ignoring the developed markets and going straight to the place where our product has the greatest potential," he said. "The emerging world is the biggest mobile market, the fastest-growing market and the place where our product has its strongest unique selling points." A small company founded in 2004, Synchronica's shares are publicly traded on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in London. Its largest single shareholder is Prince Hussam bin Saud Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, who is also the non-executive chairman of the Saudi affiliate of Zain, the Kuwaiti regional mobile operator.
In June, Synchronica announced it would form a partnership with a handset maker based in South Korea to develop a low-cost mobile e-mail device, specifically targeting customers in emerging markets. A report by Equity Development, a British research group, said sales of the device, "should be in the low millions at the very least", with an estimated sale price of less than $100. "The new email-centric device represents a significant step forward for Synchronica by enabling mobile network operators to sell a smartphone-like product but at an affordable price, suitable for emerging markets," the report said.
"Given that most mobile operator marketing centres on handsets rather than generic mobile services the device will be given far greater presence in operator marketing." firstname.lastname@example.org