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Nokia takes on RIM in mobile enterprise

Nokia will acquire wireless specialist Intellisync as it tries to be the one-stop shop for corporate mobility.

Nokia has taken a bold step in challenging Research In Motion's grasp on the corporate mobile market with the announcement that it intends to buy Intellisync, a developer of wireless messaging and e-mail technology.

The Finnish mobile giant announced Wednesday that it will pay $430 million for the company, which is based in San Jose, Calif., and currently employs 450 people.

The mobile business market is increasingly becoming an important target for Nokia, which is the world's largest cell phone maker. Many companies see mobility as key to improving productivity. Mobile devices, smart cell phones and pocket PCs will let workers on the road stay connected to their corporate network and use many of the applications they depend on at their desks.

Until now, most people bought their own cell phones and mobile devices, which they used for personal use as well as for business use. But now corporate IT officers are looking for soup-to-nuts solutions that they can deploy and manage across the entire company.

In response to these needs, Nokia has been beefing up its corporate product line in recent months. In September, it announced the Nokia Business Center, a system designed to allow workers to send and receive corporate e-mail from their handsets. The product was specifically designed to handle a wide range of both high-end and low-end handsets, including Palm's Treo and Research in Motion's BlackBerry. Nokia has also introduced several new handsets that work with its own Business Center technology as well as with technology from others, including RIM, to give corporate customers more choices in handsets.

"We want to make it simple for our business customers to mobilize their work forces no matter what their starting point," Mary McDowell, executive vice president and general manager of Nokia's Enterprise Solutions business group, said in a statement. "Based on our customers' needs, we identified the acquisition of Intellisync as the best way to provide solutions to these challenges."

Tying the Intellisync e-mail and messaging technology to Nokia's own Business Center technology will allow the company to offer customers the ability to connect practically any device to the corporate network, Nokia said.

The deal will put Nokia in direct competition with RIM, which also offers both a messaging and wireless solution as well as handsets to be used with the service. Other companies, such as Microsoft, Palm and Motorola, also are targeting this market with their own wireless e-mail products.

Nokia expects the Intellisync deal to close in the first quarter of 2006.

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