The Economist writes that the battle has just begun.
Suddenly, it seems, everyone is realising that the next big thing in telecoms and technology could be mobile e-mail. On May 10th, Microsoft, the world’s largest software firm, unveiled a new version of its Windows operating system designed for mobile phones. This will be able to run programs from independent software firms, such as Silicon Valley’s Visto, Good Technology, SEVEN and Intellisync, that will let mobile-phone users send and receive e-mail on their handsets. This follows a very busy April, when SEVEN bought Smartner, a Finnish rival, and Visto reached deals with the largest mobile operator in the world, Vodafone, and, in Canada, with Rogers Wireless, to start rolling out mobile e-mail services.
It is still early, early, early in thisdare we say nascent?trend, says Pip Coburn, an analyst at UBS. He expects mobile e-mail to be a killer application because it taps into people’s strongest psycho-emotional needsthe urge to connect with others (and simultaneous fear of social isolation if they cannot), as well as the desire to be mobilewhile asking relatively little of them by way of new learning, as they already know how to send e-mail via their PCs. Indeed, e-mail is likely to blow away a lot of the other fancy services that mobile operators are hoping to push over their third-generation wireless networks. Andrew Odlyzko, a telecoms guru, once did a survey in which he asked people to choose, hypothetically, between having either e-mail or the entire content of the world wide web: 95% chose e-mail.