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Cheaper Blackberry alternative for Africa

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Global mail specialist Synchronica is offering Mobile Gateway, its mass-market push e-mail infrastructure software in response to major mobile operators in Africa wishing to provide more affordable BlackBerry-like services.

The software, which has already been licensed to two major African operators, uses industry standards for push e-mail and synchronisation and works with more than 1,5-billion phones in use around the world today. This makes it ideal for consumers, prosumers as well as small businesses in Africa, where basic handsets are the norm and where mobile email solves the inherent problems caused by low fixed-line/PC penetration.
Synchronica is currently in trials with further three operators following the take up of licenses by two mobile operators.
Speaking from TM Forum Management World Africa, where he is presenting on 'mobile e-mail in emerging markets', Carsten Brinkschulte, Synchronica's CEO,
comments: "Africa is at a metaphorical crossroads: mobile operators in the region now have the unique opportunity to establish the mobile phone as the primary device for accessing the Internet, but many are unsure about which applications to focus on.
"Forward-looking operators have identified mobile e-mail as a key differentiator, and more importantly as a way to reduce churn while also increasing ARPU. Mobile email is a valuable and addictive service with mass-market appeal that can be offered on a subscription basis – or even as a free service funded with inline advertising."
Brinkschulte adds: "Our solution offers mobile operators a low-risk yet lucrative path: our zero-footprint technology works with the majority of phones in the market today, both with smartphones as well as with mass-market feature phones.
"Unlike other solutions, Mobile Gateway uses industry standards Push-IMAP and SyncML and does not require additional software to be installed on the device. This makes it ideal for Africa, where the addressable market is dominated by low-end devices. With Mobile Gateway, operators can finally offer their subscribers a 'BlackBerry for the masses'."
Forecasts point to emerging markets as a breakthrough area for mass-market mobile e-mail. Nigeria, for example, saw a 38% year-on-year growth in new mobile subscribers during 2006 to 30-million. Informa predicts that there will be 4,81-billion mobile phone subscribers by 2012, with the next 1-billion subscribers coming from emerging regions such as Africa, where PC and fixed-line penetration is low and consumers rely on their mobile phones for communication.
Mobile Gateway delivers push Email and synchronisation services for calendar and contact data targeting consumer and business users with built-in connectors to mass-market mailboxes such as Yahoo or Gmail as well as business users Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Domino accounts. With Mobile Gateway 3.5, even the most basic phones can receive e-mail.