Bringing email to the world's 3.5b phones

Synchronica CEO Carsten Brinkschulte believes he can bring email to the whole world and give operators a helping hand at the same time.

Brinkschulte says the UK-based company's new SimpleMail platform can support push email on the most basic mobile phones - an addressable market of some 3.5 billion customers.

By contrast, most handset and messaging firms are focusing on the high-end smartphone market.

"We believe the biggest potential for push email to be in emerging markets," Brinkschulte said.

The platform and synching software is sold as a white-label solution to operators in emerging markets, enabling them to compete against handset vendors like Nokia and internet firms like Yahoo and Google.

"There's a little war going on between manufacturers and operators," Brinkschulte said. "Companies like Nokia and Apple are becoming service providers, reducing operators to a data pipe."

Synchronica's core mobile gateway product uses IMAP or SyncML to deliver push email. That gives it a market footprint of some 1.5 billion devices.

Its recent acquisition of rival AxisMobile brought the SimpleMail solution, which extends the footprint to another 2 billion phones, Brinkschulte told

Simple Mail uses WAP push to give users a push experience. If the phone doesn't have WAP it can send mail via MMS or SMS.

Brinkschulte says emerging market operators typically sell email subscriptions in three forms. One is for the business user, with Microsoft Exchange connectivity, and priced around $5 a month. The other is for consumers at $2-$3 a month. The third is free, supported by ads.

Synchronica has already signed license agreements with two mobile operators in emerging markets, including one in India.

"It's a unique opportunity for operators and manufacturers to make the mobile phone the primary form of access to the internet," Brinkschulte said.

He says SimpleMail provides mobile operators in these markets with a counter to churn by locking consumers into an addictive service.

Synchronica is also pitching the platform to enterprises. It has sold it to an Indian bank, giving the firm a BlackBerry-style capability for its 10,000 employees at a much lower costs.