Isode -- whose email products are used by the world's most security conscious organisations including governments, intelligence agencies, military organisations and Internet service providers -- have released a software update to its M-Box email server that it believes will challenge the dominance of the mobile email market by RIM's Blackberry.
Isode's M-Box is now the first commercial email server to incorporate all of the Internet Engineering Task Force's (IETF) recommendations for mobile email.
The IETF established the License to Enhanced Mobile Oriented and Diverse Endpoints (LEMONADE) working group to address the efficiency of email services for bandwidth limited and storage restricted devices, such as mobile phones and PDAs.
The solutions offered by the LEMONADE working group are based on open standards. Open standards are publicly available, platform independent, vendor-neutral specifications that address an industry-wide problem. Open standards do not depend on any commercial intellectual property.
The LEMONADE standards were published at the end of June 2006, an event considered to have contributed to a drop in RIM's share price.
They were designed to minimise the bandwidth requirements of mobile email. Hence the primary cost factor of mobile email is reduced, more functions are enabled and performance efficiencies are achieved that contribute to a better user experience.
New functionality for mobile email
The new standards consist of extensions to the existing IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) and SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) email protocols.
Three important functions are now possible with Isode's M-Box; quick re-synchronisation, push email and forward without download.
All mobile phone users know that the connection will frequently be broken and re-established, such as when a mobile phone user travels through a tunnel. Non-LEMONADE enabled mobile IMAP email requires a bandwidth intensive start-up and re-synchronisation process that must re-check an entire mailbox when connection is lost even momentarily.
Devices using the LEMONADE standards efficiently check for mailbox changes that have occurred only since the last check. This results in radical reductions in both the time taken to re-synchronise the mailboxes and the bandwidth necessary to carry out this task.
Isode's M-Box gives mobile email users the option for virtually always on email access, known as "push email."
Push email automatically informs mobile users that they have received new messages.
Currently mobile email users who are not using a Blackberry (or another such proprietary device) must connect to their email server and go through an often lengthy and bandwidth hungry request to download emails onto their handset to discover whether they have new emails or not.
Now M-Box has implemented the LEMONADE profile, it informs mobile email users that new messages have arrived even when there is no other activity taking place between the mobile device and the server. M-Box does this by exchanging a tiny data packet every 15 minutes with the mobile device -- an electronic "What's new?", "Not much," conversation.
Forward without download
The growth of broadband has seen an increase in the file size of email attachments. Unfortunately mobile devices often can't manage such large files effectively. Very often the screen size of mobile devices prohibits easy viewing of attachments. Moreover downloading large attachments is costly and very time consuming.
In such circumstances it would likely be more efficient for the message to be forwarded to another email account or user for review.
Email systems normally require an attachment to be downloaded onto one device before they can be forwarded onto another account. This is a chronic problem for mobile email, resulting in wasted bandwidth, storage, time and money.
M-Box now enables mobile email users to recognise that an email has a large attachment, and decide to forward the attachment onto another email account without downloading the full file.
Growth of mobile email
Mobile email is widely considered to be the most popular function of mobile data services. Strategy Analytics believe the number of mobile email users is set to double in 2006. Detecon report that mobile email is the most popular mobile data service among consumers. Gartner Research states that seventy-five percent of the global workforce will be mobile in 2006, driven primarily by mobile email.
M-Box is offered as the mobile email solution to all email service providers, including Internet service providers, mobile operators and corporations that run their own mail servers.
Release 12 of the M-Box operating system incorporates all of the LEMONADE criteria, establishing M-Box as the first commercially available email server that is fully compliant with the IETF's recommendations for bandwidth efficient and cost effective mobile email.
M-Box can be used as either a complete email solution or in 'gateway' mode to give IMAP access to email systems that only offer the traditional POP access.