Mobile synchronisation product GoodLink, which keeps PalmOne Treo 600 devices continually synchronised over wireless links, has arrived in the UK.
Good Technology, who recently launched version 3.0 of the product, will sell it to companies wanting to keep email and calendar information continually up-to-date on several Treos.
"We've made this a zero-touch operation for the IT manager," said Sue Forbes, vice president of marketing at Good. "There is no desktop software or cradle." Instead the software synchronises continually in the background, connected to the company's Microsoft Exchange server through a dedicated GoodLink server in the data room.
Each PDA runs a GoodLink client designed to look as much like Microsoft Outlook as possible, but with some improvements over Microsoft's Pocket Office, said Forbes, such as multi-tasking allowing appointments to be opened directly from an email. The Treo 600, provided by Orange in the UK, is a popular smartphone which combines a PalmOne PDA with a built-in phone (see our Treo 600 review). Goodlink lets companies use the device much as the competing Blackberry (see our Blackberry review), but with additional PalmOne PDA functions.
Good has announced a version supporting the Phone edition of Microsoft's Windows Mobile for Pocket PCs (developed closely with Microsoft, and replacing the existing smartphone client software) but this will not be available until May. In the US, Good has 1,600 corporate customers many of whom are using original proprietary device and RIM's Blackberry, which the company previously supported.
The company sells direct to corporations, although when a company buys a big box of mobile devices, for instance from Orange, it will sometimes be a co-selling deal, said Forbes. She expects the first UK customers to be subsidiaries of existing US customers, such as McGraw Hill.
As well as synchronisation, the software handles management functions, such as assigning access different levels and monitoring whether a device is on or off the network. It also keeps a profile of the device which can be updated over the cellular network. Admins can download the software to a new smartphone just bought.
"Organisations tend to break down into two kinds," said Forbes. "Some are centrally focussed; they buy devices with data plans, load up the software and send them out to individuals. Some organisations like to put the server in and leave it to groups to choose their devices and synchronise them."
For security, the software uses encryption with Triple DES or AES, and has a feature that will wipe the data on the device if a user reports it lost (as long as the thief hasn't turned the radio off).
The system cost works out around £180 per user per year, said Forbes, and the cost of synchronising data will be a couple of pounds per month per user (the device uses compression and most people will use less than 2MB of data over a month). "Even we only use about 5MB a month, and we are really heavy users," explained Forbes.
The device previews the first few lines of emails, only downloading the complete text and any attachments when requested to do so.
"The real advantage of Good's new product is that it takes a lot of things and combines them into one package," said David Linsalata, an analyst with IDC, at the US launch of GoodLink 3.0. "They have some things such as multi-tasking that make the device easier to use."
While for UK users (admittedly of a certain age) the company name may conjure up Felicity Kendal and Richard Briers going self-sufficient in Surbiton, the reality is a bit more brutally Californian. Brace yourself for the company slogan: "Good for Business, and Great for You!"