Nokia has introduced a new software platform to support mobile business applications, starting with push e-mail.

The company joins a handful of other enterprise e-mail providers and vendors that are trying to penetrate a market dominated by RIM with its Blackberry devices and software.

To implement the service, an enterprise installs the Nokia Business Center server software. End users with Java MIDP 2.0-capable phones that are certified by Nokia then download the client, enabling them to receive and send corporate e-mail. MIDP, or Mobile Information Device Protocol, is part of the Java runtime environment for mobile phones.

Initially, the service will be available on a range of Nokia handsets, including the Nokia 9500 Communicator and selected Nokia 6600 phones. The first version of the offering can deliver e-mail from Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, with support for Lotus Notes and Domino to follow.

Nokia is offering two tiers of products. The basic client allows users to compose, read and delete e-mail as well as manage local folders. A professional version, which costs more, offers a more graphical experience plus support for functions such as managing meeting requests, reading attachments, finding employee contact information from a corporate directory and searching local folders.

Nokia Business Center is priced at €1,800 (£1,216), including support for an unlimited number of standard users. The professional edition costs an additional €30 per user. Nokia expects the service to be available in the Americas and Europe, the Middle East and Africa by the end of the year.