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Orange launches mobile e-mail service

Mobile operator says only about 10 percent of small and midsize businesses in Europe already use mobile e-mail.

Orange, the mobile operator owned by France Telecom, unveiled on Friday a mobile e-mail service that it hopes will win over the small and midsize business market.

The push e-mail system, called Orange Mail Enterprise Service, will be based on France Telecom's proprietary technology and will go on sale across Orange's European networks starting Friday. Poland, Spain and the U.K. will be the last to get the service in early 2007.

Some analysts were surprised that the U.K. is among the last group.

"Arguably, outside of the U.S., solutions like the BlackBerry have been most successful in the U.K. I would have expected them to be a bit more even-handed," Rob Bamford, an analyst at Quocirca, told ZDNet UK sister site Silicon.com.

An Orange representative said the operator is only considering the countries that need the service the most.

"The Orange Mail solution has been developed to suit a range of diverse markets, and this is a phased rollout schedule based on local markets where the need is greatest," the representative said.

Orange already sells mobile e-mail products from Microsoft and Research In Motion.

According to Orange, only about 10 percent of small and midsize businesses already have mobile e-mail.

Jo Best of Silicon.com reported from London.