December 4, 2008 Nokia has announced a plan to offer email and IM on all Nokia devices through the use of their Mail on Ovi Platform. Users have the option of creating a new e-mail account with 1GB of storage on the Ovi service, or can connect to their existing Mail and IM accounts hosted by Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, AOL and others.

Nokia's stated goal is to move mobile e-mail down the food chain and to make it available to every user of any of their devices. Consider the fact that over 1 billion of the worlds current 4 billion mobile phone users are currently using Nokia devices, and you can see that their goal as more ambitious than any undertaking since the invention of e-mail itself. Nokia's clear commitment to this goal is shown in the design of their new flagship device, the N97. The N97 has clearly been designed to bridge the gap between a multimedia and messaging device; signaling that Nokia intends to make e-mail and messaging a high priority in their N series consumer devices, and not just their E series business focused ones.

It's not all sunshine and parades though, notably absent from the offering is the ability to synchronize the contacts and calendars from web based services like Google and Yahoo. Nokia's representatives claim that few people actually use these features of their webmail accounts. We feel that transparent synchronization of contacts and calendar would bring consumer messaging up to a level similar to corporate messaging enjoyed by Exchange and Notes users, and consumers would quickly start using these web services as "backups" for the data that's historically resided only on their phones.

Regardless of side discussions of specific features, there is no doubt that Nokia's email service offering is a major weapon in the fight to win the hearts and minds of users. Apple and RIM already have their Mobile Me and BIS (Blackberry Internet Service) offerings, and while Nokia is coming third to the party, they do so with support of for a much larger installed base of users in the market.

Dave Weinstein

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