Smartphones Get Smarter

DataViz, Milford, Conn., makers of the Documents To Go mobile office suite—which allows users to open and edit Microsoft Office documents, PDFs and e-mail attachments on handheld computing devices—has released a version of the software that runs on the Symbian operating system for smartphones: Documents To Go for Symbian OS-based UIQ.

“Ten years ago when we were thinking about developing for handhelds, we always had the idea that as people&'s offices started to mobilize they would want to take their stuff with them,” said Jeff Fetchick, director of global sales at DataViz. “We&'ve always been true believers in the convergence theory.”

And believing in the future of convergence has paid off. So far, more than 12 million copies of Documents To Go for the Palm operating system have been distributed worldwide.

The software fills a niche that was searching for a solution in the handheld device market. Users couldn&'t edit and open attachments on PDAs or smartphones, making responding to business e-mail and doing work on the road impossible without a laptop.

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Nic Ortega, category manager for peripherals and components at Ingram Micro, Santa Ana, Calif., said the distributor is working on strategies to put together solutions for document management, and mobile document management is an emerging part of that strategy.

“We&'re finding a lot of gaps within the software piece of solutions. This has been one of them: mobile document management solutions. What we see from a categorical perspective is that this is definitely a good thing that ISVs are coming out with software,” Ortega said.

“A lot of businesses are adopting technology and having you use your Treo as a mobile solution,” he said. “It&'s not replacing the laptop yet, but it will be like an extra tool that you could have.”

Ortega said developers are making very good software that is getting favorable reviews from end users, and DataViz&'s products are among them.

“[As products] start to improve and get to the point where we can feel comfortable about the software, more people are going to start using them [for business applications],” Ortega said.

Will Pinnell, senior director of business development at Handango, a Hurst, Texas-based online retailer of mobile device software, said the document management market for mobile devices is expanding.

“You&'re going to see more and more handsets that are capable of doing more than what you think of when you think of a phone,” Pinnell said. “People are going to be using their phones to access all sorts of information, whether it&'s reading e-mail or being able to view and edit and send information that [is in the form of] Office documents.”

The technology itself is impressive and worth taking note of, he added.

“What I think is really cool is the fact that you can actually open up and manipulate documents, change and edit, and then send it out, and you can have those changes saved in that data format—it&'s pretty phenomenal technology. They&'ve been working for a long time to get it right,” Pinnell said.

While smartphones and PDAs gain popularity in the United States, Ingram Micro&'s Ortega said it will be important for ISVs to work with hardware makers to ensure compatible products, and the distributor wants its vendors to be successful. “We see that as a good thing, and [it&'s] definitely going to increment the growth of the category,” Ortega said.

“Ingram Micro has an initiative to try and identify those opportunities within the ISV community, so we will help our ISVs partner with our tier-one hardware vendors to complete the solution and train our resellers to bundle these products together. We&'ll definitely help in the process,” he said.

“The message is that it is a growing category. It is going to be very useful to the end users. It is going to add a lot of incremental sales for our resellers. We at Ingram Micro keep pushing to have a full line in document management to have a mobile solution,” he said.