TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: E-Mail Service For Basic Mobile Phones Unveiled

E-Mail Service For Basic Mobile Phones Unveiled

Eric Auchard (
Tue, 21 Nov 2006 19:44:20 -0600

By Eric Auchard

A start-up founded by a group of successful European entrepreneurs is
set to bring e-mail, instant messaging and other communications
services to low-cost mobile phones, its chief executive said on

Babur Ozden, the head of Berggi Inc., said his company plans to offer
a simplified alternative to the Blackberry e-mail delivery service
from Canada's Research In Motion, which dominates the mobile
professional market.

Berggi aims to offer messaging services for basic mobile phones that
still represent two-thirds of the U.S. mobile market. Users of
Blackberry or rival e-mail services on Palm or Microsoft software need
more expensive, so-called smartphones.

Consumers can send and receive e-mail on their phones from Internet
services such as Yahoo, Microsoft or Google, along with popular
instant-messaging services. Berggi delivers any text in the body of an
e-mail, but not document attachments.

"Our uniqueness is that we are the only application that runs on mid-
to lower-end phones," Ozden said in an interview.

U.S. consumers can sign up on the company's Web site at, beginning on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. Mobile
phone users in Spain can start using Berggi on Friday.

During the first half of next year, Berggi plans to offer the service
in Britain, Italy, Mexico and Turkey, Ozden said.

The U.S. service costs $9.99 a month. European users pay by the data
they consume. One euro covers 10 or 20 e-mails.

While targeting the price-sensitive end of the consumer market, Berggi
is essentially trying to encourage users to bypass the billing systems
that mobile carriers use to lock consumers into rates.

"For the majority of consumers with fixed-rate data plans, that's a
risk," said Forrester analyst Charles Golvin.

Ozden said Berggi works as a simple download on most U.S. mobile
carriers, except for Verizon Communications and the Nextel service of
Sprint Nextel, which have billing system conflicts. Berggi also
assumes that Blackberry or Palm users will rely on higher-end services
for these devices.

"My customer is a private e-mail user or a small business user," Ozden
said, in contrast to corporate e-mail users.

Forrester's Golvin said Berggi is looking to partner with established
consumer brands to help them allow consumers to stay connected with
like-minded mobile phone users in wireless versions of social networks
like MySpace.

Ozden said initial U.S. distribution partners are Blinko USA, a unit
of Italian mobile entertainment company Buongiorno S.p.A.., and the
America One Television, a Western U.S. TV network gearing up to launch
its own mobile service.

Berggi was founded by Jorge Mata, who is now chairman. He sold, a Spanish company that delivers marketing via text
message to mobile phones, to Italy's Buongiorno in 2001.

Ozden, who joined Berggi in May, is a serial entrepreneur who in 1993
founded SuperOnline, Turkey's biggest Internet service, a unit of top
mobile carrier Turkcell.

The Houston-based company, which employs 18 and operates a research
facility in Madrid, received $3 million in April through a funding
round led by Adara Venture Partners, which makes early-stage
investments in mobile consumer services.

Oz Communications of Montreal offers similar e-mail and instant
message services through major U.S. and European carriers. The
difference is that Berggi offers service directly to consumers instead
of relying on carrier partners.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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