All Smartphones to Support E-mail by 2008

IT departments should plan now for wireless e-mail on all supported handheld devices, as wireless e-mail will be a built-in application on all smartphones by the end of 2008, according to Gartner,Inc.

Gartner analysts presented the future of wireless applications during the Gartner Wireless & Mobile Summit, which is being held here April 11-13. Gartner analysts said wireless e-mail is becoming a mainstream application alongside mobile voice communications, but the variance between those who can communicate via voice and those who can communicate via e-mail is still significant.

“Operators are reluctant to permit widespread messaging access to their networks without collecting fees from those who send such messages, such as spam,” said Ken Dulaney, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “However, operators will lose this battle the same way that telecommunications companies lost the battle against an open Internet.”

At this time, wireless e-mail adoption is limited by high monthly prices charged by operators for data services for Research In Motion’s Blackberry, combined with a poor understanding of the key benefits of wireless e-mail to the organization. Gartner analysts said this is no different from the early days of mobile voice. The period from invention of mobile voice to mass adoption was lengthy, but mass adoption of mobile e-mail should be much faster.

While some companies may have difficulty justifying wireless e-mail on its own, it does have an impact on the frequency of use of other types of communications. If traffic transference can be established, the adoption of wireless e-mail may be cost neutral.

“One of the first places to examine is whether wireless e-mail will reduce some of the voice minutes,” Mr. Dulaney said. “For example, a business manager might see voicemails dropping precipitously and find real benefits to the fact that messages can be forwarded easily inside and outside the organization. The overall cost per message delivered is likely to be lower, given the theory that most phone calls are several minutes long and include the time to connect to the person called.”