Sony Ericsson to Offer Microsoft's ActiveSync for Smart Phones

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Two smart phones coming from Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications in the second quarter will support an array of push e-mail systems including Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync and Research in Motion's BlackBerry Connect.

Users will be able to synchronize both the P990 and the M600 handsets with Exchange Server 2003 to view e-mail, contacts, and calendar entries, Microsoft said today. Enterprises using Service Pack 2 of the server software will be able to deliver the latest e-mail to employees via Microsoft's Direct Push technology.

Not Only Microsoft

But Sony Ericsson isn't locking users in to Microsoft's platform on the phones, which will use Symbian's Symbian OS 9.1 and the UIQ 3.0 software platform and operate on UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) networks.

Both devices will also support BlackBerry Connect, a software-based version of RIM's popular push e-mail technology, RIM announced today. Other e-mail options will include iAnywhere Solutions' OneBridge and software from AlteXia, Intellisync, Seven, and Visto. Standard IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) e-mail will also be supported, and Ericsson Mobile Office will be provided free with the phones on a "try-and-buy" basis, according to Sony Ericsson.

Competitive Push E-Mail

Push e-mail for mobile handsets, pioneered by RIM, has become a hotly competitive field. Microsoft is making inroads both with licensed ActiveSync software and with Windows Mobile OS devices, which have Exchange ActiveSync compatibility built in. Motorola, Palm, Nokia, Symbian, and software vendor DataViz are already licensees of ActiveSync, according to Microsoft. Meanwhile, RIM has come under a cloud as the Waterloo, Ontario, company faces a possible injunction against its service in the United States due to a court battle over patents.

Sony Ericsson's P990 was announced last year in advance of its availability so developers could start working on applications for it. The handset includes Wi-Fi and a 2-megapixel camera. The M600, announced Monday, will have a touch screen with handwriting recognition. It will also have a dual-fuction keypad for dialing numbers and typing e-mail that can be configured for QWERTY, Russian, and other layouts, according to Sony Ericsson.

Both handsets also will include trial versions of McAfee antivirus and firewall software and Pointsec Mobile Technologies encryption software, plus a free Certicom VPN (virtual private network) client.

The P990 will be offered in two forms: the P990i for UMTS and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) networks in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region, and the P990c for UMTS and GPRS networks in mainland China when UMTS coverage is available. The M600i will be offered for UMTS and GPRS in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and the Americas, and the M600c will be available in mainland China when networks become available.

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