Nokia takes mobile messaging to the masses

Nokia announced more details about its upcoming Messaging platform, which will add support for mobile e-mail and instant messaging to its phones, at its World 08 conference in Barcelona on Tuesday.

"The basic promise to the consumer is that if you buy a Nokia device we at Nokia will make sure you'll be able to access whatever e-mail account or instant messaging account that you may have," said Tom Farrell, director of software and services sales at Nokia.

Nokia's platform, for example, supports Yahoo Mail and Messenger, Windows Live Hotmail, Gmail, Google Talk, and AOL Mail as well as e-mail applications from ISPs (Internet service providers), according to Nokia.

Nokia sees this as a mass market; the goal is to reach the point where e-mail and instant messaging are as ubiquitous and easy to use as SMS (Short Message Service) is today, according to Farrell.

"To date mobile messaging has been a niche activity where very few consumers have had it if you think about it, and we want hundreds of millions to use it," said Farrell.

The service will launch during the first quarter of next year in eight markets: Singapore, Australia, Venezuela, the U.K., Finland, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain, and during the rest of 2009 more markets will be added.

The U.S. is on Nokia's target list, but no launch date has been finalized, according to Farrell.

Nokia Messaging will at first available on Nokia S60 devices. Instant messaging and support for Nokia Series 40 devices will be enabled in the second half of 2009.

Nokia also announced Mail on Ovi, its mail service for mobile phones and PCs. Nokia Messaging will predominantly be used in the developed world where users already have an e-mail address, and Mail on Ovi is more focused at emerging markets, said Farrell.

"There are many, many consumers who for the first time will join the Internet on a Nokia device, and we want to give those people the opportunity to participate and join the digital economy, in a sense," said Farrell.

The beta version of Mail on Ovi will roll out globally this month in 12 languages -- including English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Hindi, Bengali, Tagalog, Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Malaysia -- on all currently shipping Nokia Series 40 devices.

The Web-access version will launch in February.

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