View all newsletters
Receive our newsletter - data, insights and analysis delivered to you
  1. Technology
April 10, 2005

Seven buys Smartner to broaden OS support and target mass market

US push email developer Seven Networks has acquired Finnish rival Smartner Information Systems. The deal marries the latter's expertise in Symbian and Microsoft platforms with Seven's own knowledge in Java, BREW, Palm OS and iMode and targeting primarily the more mass market phones.

By CBR Staff Writer

Both vendors are primarily white-label providers of their technology to mobile carriers, counting 45 operators between them including Cingular, Sprint, NTT DoCoMo and KDDI from Seven’s side and Telefonica, Telenor, O2 and Bouygues from Smartner’s. This model differs from that of the market leader, Canada’s Research In Motion (RIM), whose BlackBerry service is provided mainly on the proprietary handsets that make up 66% of its revenue.

RIM also targets mainly business users with an upmarket service, however, and as Seven CEO Kent Thexton put it, they’ve done a great job of raising the profile of push email, but they still have only 2.5 million customers, when it should be 100 million.

Part of the market opportunity for the enlarged Seven, therefore, lies in the business sector. There are some 650 million corporate email accounts out there, and only about three million of them are mobilized, he commented, adding however that the real opportunity lies, in his opinion, in the mass market. We’re looking at getting tens of millions of clients.

Redwood City, California-based Seven’s staff of 120 will now be augmented by Smartner’s 50, based primarily in Helsinki, giving Seven a transatlantic presence and deepening its knowledge of the Symbian OS, which is strongest in Europe. As for product lines, they are of course quite similar, and will need integration into a single portfolio over time. Seven offers Enterprise Edition, Server Edition and Personal Edition of its eponymous product, while Smartner Duality Always-on Mail comes in Enterprise, Professional and Internet Editions, as well as something called Unplug+Play, which has Bluetooth support.

Integration will initially take the form of connectors on each other’s products, enabling them to communicate with either company’s servers, with full integration over the course of the next year. Mr Thexton said there will also be some work to be done around harmonization of the two companies’ synchronization techniques.

Unlike Seven, Smartner also has a hosted offering in both the UK and Finland. This can be either Smartner-branded, or carry the name of the telco we’re hosting it for, said Paul Hedman, CEO of the Finnish concern. Bouygues Telecom in France, for instance, actually prefers to have the Smartner name associated with the offering. In addition to operators, Smartner also has an OEM relationship with Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications, which has been selling the service as Ericsson Mobile Organiser since late last year.

Smartner also has a co-marketing agreement with Microsoft, and the most consumer-oriented edition of Always-On Mail, Professional, ships with some Series 90 phones from Nokia. Both we and Seven have been seeking to get our products on its Series 60 and 80 phones, so we’re coordinating joint efforts there now, and Seven’s working with them on the [more consumer-oriented] Series 40, Mr Hedman added.

Content from our partners
Unlocking growth through hybrid cloud: 5 key takeaways
How businesses can safeguard themselves on the cyber frontline
How hackers’ tactics are evolving in an increasingly complex landscape

Comparisons with RIM’s towering presence in push email have been inevitable for the two companies operating separately, and as a single entity they are certain to continue. They seem, at least, to be adopting a more consumer-focused approach in an attempt to avoid head-on competition with the Canadian giant, which itself has expressed ambitions of beefing up software licensing vis-a-vis hardware sales from here on. There is certainly plenty of virgin territory still to be explored, as the number of mobile phones in operation approaches half a billion, so the competitors will probably be able to co-exist comfortably for some time to come.

Websites in our network
Select and enter your corporate email address Tech Monitor's research, insight and analysis examines the frontiers of digital transformation to help tech leaders navigate the future. Our Changelog newsletter delivers our best work to your inbox every week.
  • CIO
  • CTO
  • CISO
  • CSO
  • CFO
  • CDO
  • CEO
  • Architect Founder
  • MD
  • Director
  • Manager
  • Other
Visit our privacy policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.