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Funambol aims open “push” email at carriers, enterprises

Sep 29, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

A dual-licensed client-server suite said to provide push email, and over-the-air (OTA) address book/calendar sychronization on commodity Java-capable phones has reached general availability. Funambol says version 3 of its eponymous suite “puts open source on a collision course with proprietary mobile email vendors” such as Blackberry-maker RIM.

“Push email” describes messages that are pushed all the way to the client device, rather than being cached on a POP or IMAP server for on-demand download. The technology was popularized by the RIM, which is best known for its “BlackBerry” brand devices. Coincidentally, RIM's stock rose about 20 percent today, after a rosy quarterly report. About a year ago, Microsoft introduced an update to Exchange Server along with a companion update to Windows Mobile 5.0 that provide push-data services that compete with those of RIM's Blackberry.

The Funambol suite includes a server component that provides connectors to both Microsoft Exchange and IBM Domino email servers. Funambol says yesterday's release marks the first availability of these connectors under an open source license.

Funambol function diagram
(Click to enlarge)

The server is available under the company's honest public license (HPL) — which is said to explicitly extend the GPLv2 to software that is distributed as a service.

The server is alternatively available under a commercial license targeting enterprises. The commercial version is functionally identical, but comes with up to three technical support incidents, proactive software update notices, and access to a support portal.

Additionally, a commercially licensed “carrier-class” version of the server adds high-availability features, including integration with commercial application servers, including WebSphere and WebLogic, and RDBMSs, including Oracle.

The Funambol v3 suite also includes a lightweight client for J2ME-enabled phones and other mobile devices. The client is available under the GPL.

CEO Fabrizio Capobianco stated, “Mobile email for consumers hasn't taken off because most consumers cannot afford the large monthly fees offered by the current players. We are combining open source and mobile email — which have enjoyed wild success in the corporate world — to help carriers eventually deliver low-cost push email on commodity handsets.”

Chief Analyst J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D., of Frost and Sullivan, stated, “Over 500 million people have an email account, and most of them have a cell phone, but only 1 percent are currently managing their contacts, calendars, and email with their wireless handset. Funambol's open source solution provides a low cost offering for a large part of the underserved market.”


Funambol's Funambol v3 is available now.

Funambol began beta testing v3 in February, and racked up 600,000 downloads, it claims.

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