- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 23, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) — Cingular Wireless is introducing a service for nonbusiness users to get BlackBerry-like mobile access to their personal e-mail accounts from AOL, Yahoo and MSN Hotmail on a cell phone.

The service, powered by Oz Communications Inc., is designed to adapt the look and capabilities of a Web portal or e-mail program such as Outlook to the limited screen size, keyboard and processing power of a garden-variety handset.

The Java-based e-mail application will be available to download on existing phones starting today with five models from Motorola Inc. and one from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. It also is being pre-installed on new phones, though not immediately through all Cingular sales channels.

There is no monthly charge for Cingular Mobile Email, but users will need to subscribe to one of the company’s wireless Internet plans with a monthly allotment of data usage. Jim Ryan, a Cingular vice president, said a $5 monthly data plan should provide sufficient capacity to check one’s e-mail a few times a day.

Fetching e-mail on a cell phone has been possible for some time, generally by using a mobile Web browser or a downloadable third-party application. But the process is often cumbersome: Users need to click through multiple menus, type in Web addresses, sign in using a telephone keypad, and scroll about to read poorly formatted messages on a small screen.

By contrast, BlackBerrys and other “smart” mobile devices were designed for accessing corporate e-mail accounts in real time with a click or two, displaying them in an easier-to-read format on a larger screen.

The surging popularity of such devices has fueled predictions that mobile e-mail will be a big draw for consumers, too.

“RIM has been phenomenally successful catering to high-end users, but that’s peanuts compared to the 700-million-plus consumer e-mail accounts,” said Skuli Mogensen, chief executive of Montreal-based Oz, which also provides the instant-messaging service offered by Cingular and other carriers.

The Cingular application and a service introduced by Sprint Nextel Corp. to deliver Yahoo mail to cell phones are designed to minimize clicks as well, while offering other BlackBerry-like features such as immediate notification of new e-mails as they arrive online.

The Sprint service, provided by Seven Networks Inc., also features access to an online address book, a capability not available with Cingular’s offering.

But the Cingular service is the first with a wide array of popular e-mail portals, including the AOL and AOL Instant Messenger services from Time Warner Inc., the Yahoo and SBC-Yahoo services from Yahoo Inc., and the MSN Hotmail service from Microsoft Corp.

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