Hewlett-Packard prepares to launch BlackBerry killer

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Hewlett-Packard will release a handheld product later this year that will offer its customers push e-mail capabilities, and compete with Research In Motion’s BlackBerrys, executives told the company’s first ever Mobility Summit.

The device, HP iPaq Mobile Messenger, will incorporate

messaging software from Good Technology, which also makes its own devices and expanded its Canadian presence with customers such as Money Mart Canada last year. GoodLink 3.0 offers support for Windows Mobile-based devices, including Pocket PC handhelds such as the iPaq HP sells.

HP gained the iPaq product line through its mega-merger with Compaq Computer Corp. in 2002. The partnership with GoodLink is aimed squarely at corporate enterprise customers who want e-mail, calendar, contacts and other information managed through Microsoft Outlook and Exchange 2003 environments. Executives from HP were expected to demonstrate the iPaq Mobile Messenger at the 3GSM World Congress.

“”RIM has done a great job of developing the market over the last four or five years,”” said HP senior vice-president and general manager of mobile computing Ted Clark. “”But our customers have told us they want to deploy not only e-mail but have a platform with a development environment they’re used to. . . . We’ll be able to go head-to-head with BlackBerry.””

Although devices based on GoodLink are making inroads into the market, RIM has a significant lead over most of its rivals. Late last year, it said it had signed up more than two million BlackBerry subscribers. On the other hand, RIM’s future has been clouded by an ongoing legal battle with NTP, which claims the BlackBerry violates some of its intellectual property. An injunction that would prevent RIM from making or selling the BlackBerry in the U.S. has been delayed pending an appeals process.

Looks matter

JupiterResearch analyst Michael Gartenberg said the success of the iPaq Mobile Messenger will ultimately depend on how it looks in terms of form factor, battery life and how well it works as a phone.

“”As a service, it’s not only going head to head with devices from RIM but back-end offerings from Microsoft,”” he said. “”The No. 1 mobile feature is telephony first and foremost, followed by e-mail. As you get to outside applications, there are some natural synergies to the Windows platform.””

HP is laying out a product roadmap to show its commitment to the mobile space that includes a slew of notebook releases and a pledge to “”address the smart phone space”” by the end of this year, Clark said.

HP would provide no details on its smart phone strategy, although the company has a close partnership with Nokia. Some OEMs, such as Sony, have partnered with Nokia rival Ericsson to create smart phones.

“”All I can say is, we’re going to be offering something we think is missing from the marketplace,”” Clark said, adding that the move into smart phones was based specifically on requests from enterprise customers.

“”I’ll leave you to think about what that might be.””

Besides launching 10 business notebooks at the Mobility Summit, HP also said it was launching a hosted e-mail service for small and medium businesses and a wireless LAN assessment and setup support service.

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