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Microsoft Looks To Give Mobile Email A Boost With Acompli Acquisition

Mobile email has always been kind of clunky, but Microsoft is moving to change that by acquiring one of the hottest startups in this fast-developing market segment.

Microsoft said Monday that it has acquired Acompli, a San Francisco-based startup whose free email app for iOS and Android devices has become popular with mobile workers.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but Re/Code reported that Microsoft paid more than $200 million for the mobile email company, which has raised $7.3 million since its founding in January 2013.

Acompli is one of several startups that are trying to improve the email user experience on mobile devices, which is a longstanding problem that Apple and Microsoft have yet to address. Mailbox, one of the first startups to emerge in this space, was acquired by Dropbox last year soon after its launch.

Acompli's email apps make it easy to find important information, set up meetings and open attachments and files, Rajesh Jha, Microsoft's corporate vice president of Outlook and Office 365, said in a blog post Monday.

"Users love how it connects to all email services and provides a single place to manage email with a focus on getting things done," Jha said in the blog post.

[Related: Microsoft May Revoke Compucom's Top Partner Status, Say Sources]

Spencer Ferguson, president and CEO of Wasatch I.T., a Salt Lake City-based Microsoft partner, told CRN he uses Acompli on his iPhone and finds it "clearly superior" to the mail and calendar apps in iOS.

"Being able to manage email, calendars and attachments from a single app -- as we do with Outlook on the desktop -- is much easier with Acompli," Ferguson said in an email to CRN.

Microsoft and Acompli began talking a few months ago about getting the app integrated with Office 365, and the acquisition took shape from there, Javier Soltero, CEO and co-founder of Acompli, said in a blog post.

The two teams will provide more details on their "exciting product plans" in the next few months, said Soltero.

Interestingly, Soltero, who was a CTO at VMware for three-plus years prior to starting Acompli, was singing a much different tune just a few months ago.

Soltero criticized Microsoft in an April blog post for not releasing an iOS version of its Outlook client, suggesting that competing internal agendas were preventing it from doing so.

For example, Microsoft's platform people want everything to run on Windows, while the device people want everyone to use Windows Phones, Soltero said in the blog post.

"The net result of having so many broad and competing agendas is that they frequently collide with each other, resulting in products that often miss the mark, even for the legions of dedicated users who rely on them every day," Soltero said in the blog post.

Jerod Powell, co-founder and CEO of San Jose, Calif.-based Microsoft partner InfinIT Consulting, thinks the Acompli deal will help Microsoft deliver a better Outlook user experience on smartphones and tablets.

"I do love Outlook on my phone and send hundreds of emails a day from it. I’m sure that Microsoft will make it better," he said.

PUBLISHED DEC. 1, 2014

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