Brightpoint Integrates Microsoft Mobile Solutions

To that end, the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant announced at CTIA Wireless 2005 this month a joint marketing pact with mobile phone distributor Brightpoint, Plainfield, Ind., to provide VARs with integrated wireless solutions that combine Windows Small Business Server 2003, Windows Mobile devices and mobile carrier plans for small to midsize business customers.

As part of the deal, Brightpoint developed a Mobile Activation Service (MAS) that will automatically provision mobile service with the combined product set to simplify the deployment of mobile solutions for resellers and solution providers.

MAS is slated to launch later this year over Sprint's nationwide PCS network. Microsoft said it will market the service offerings to its extensive channel and particularly to partners that sell Windows Small Business Server 2003.

The Mobile Activation Catalogue initially will offer a range of solutions with Windows Mobile-based devices, Small Business Server's Exchange 2003 and hardware accessories. Because Windows SBS 2003 offers direct synchronization with Windows Mobile devices, customers can seamlessly synchronize their business information to a mobile device and access Outlook's Calendar, Contacts and Inbox as well as a small number of business applications from their handheld devices.

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Oli Thordarson, president of Alvaka Networks, Huntington Beach, Calif., said he plans to deploy a Pocket PC Phone-based Connectwise application internally that will allow his employees to access business data from their Windows Mobile devices. "We are going to a new application heavily based on .Net, including smartphones and appliances for engineers to do their work-order entries, trouble tickets and look up customer information," he said. The PSA application from Connectwise, Tampa, Fla., does not run on the Palm Treo or the RIM BlackBerry.

Jason Harrison, president of Harrison Technology Consulting, a Microsoft partner in Nashville, N.C., said most small-business users have been satisfied accessing their e-mail from the office or home, but that may change with the next generation of Windows Mobile and marketing bundles targeted to VARs. "The demand for such functionality is low, but not because small businesses don't want it or need it—they just don't know about it," he said. "Maybe this deal will help get the word out."

Dave Brown, vice president of Advanced Wireless Services at Brightpoint North America, said it has been cumbersome for solution providers to offer these types of solutions because it required a lot of front-end work, including the negotiation of deals with mobile service providers. The availability of out-of-the-box solutions gives Microsoft VARs an easy new revenue stream, Brown said.

"To date, the existing VAR channel does a lot of work," he said. "We bring to Microsoft systems integrators incremental business revenues they can offer to existing and new small and medium businesses." Microsoft partners are also eligible for commissions on mobile phone service activations, he said.