01 Communique offers remote e-mail attachment opener

TORONTO — 01 Communique said the restructuring of Glenayre Technologies wouldn’t get in the way of its plans to take over the unified messaging market.

The company Tuesday demonstrated some forthcoming features to its I’m InTouch line, including the ability to remotely open and send attachments via e-mail on a wireless device. These features will be available in July.

01 was originally scheduled to share the stage with Glenayre, which was to show how the features could be accessed through its ActiveLink devices. Last week, however, Glenayre said it would be refocusing its efforts on its enhanced services platform, essentially opting out of the wireless device business.

Brian McElwain, 01’s senior vice-president, said Glenaye’s change in direction didn’t pose a problem.

“We’re platform independent,” he said. “This technology was developed for all kinds of devices.”

Nine-year-old 01 Communique is probably best known for its Communicate! Line of unified messaging products. The company has traditionally worked through a network of retailers and OEM partners, but the launch of I’m InTouch will significantly broaden its distribution strategy.

McElwain said by August the company would be looking at the corporate IT market and would create a direct sales force, though he did not indicate how large it would be. At the same time, McElwain said 01 would also launch an enhanced channel marketing program to send I’m InTouch through value-added resellers.

“The real key is the VARs,” he said. “We will have to break up our target markets so that the direct sales force doesn’t compete. It’s certainly something you have to manage properly but I see VARs as having the best access to those target markets.”

I’m InTouch software is free for download on 01’s Web site and uses a membership-based subscription fee of about US$9.95 a month to generate revenue. Andrew Cheung, the company’s president, said it was also looking at revenue-sharing deals and OEM bundling with two-way pager carriers, modem manufacturers and DSL and cable ISPs. “The carriers are the ones wit the best access to the customers,” he said. “We are actively pursuing deals with them.”

Unified messaging was pegged as the Great White Hope of communications a few years ago, with large players like Mitel offering a way of receiving voice, fax and e-mail from a single location. The concept failed to take off in most enterprise environments, however, probably because most PC desktop users can access their messages without much trouble.

Cheung said the launch of I’m InTouch dovetails with the rise of mobile workers in the small and medium business and SOHO market, and these will be the first spaces in which the product line is pushed.

The demonstration included an e-mail attachment being opened on a Research In Motion (RIM) BlackBerry device. Two weeks ago RIM sued Glenaye for allegedly copying the way the BlackBerry redirects e-mail from a computer or server to a handheld using a single e-mail address. Cheung was quick to distance itself from Glenayre and any possible copyright infringement.

“We are complementing each other,” he said. “RIM’s is a pushing technology; ours is a pulling technology.”

McElwain said 01 Communique would also push I’m InTouch to its five million installed base of Communicate! customers.

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