Apptix Shows Fruits of Acquisition With Blackberry Service

Wednesday May 9th 2007 by Dan Muse
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To help mobile professionals better manage e-mail and text messages, the on-demand service provider unveiled WebMessenger Message Alerts for BlackBerry. Earlier this week Apptix acquired WebMessenger for $7 million.

Apptix, a provider that specializes in offering hosted Microsoft Exchange for small businesses, wasted little time after its purchase of WebMessenger to announce the first product from the newly acquired company.

After buying the provider of mobile IM products on Monday for $7 million, yesterday Apptix announced the release of WebMessenger Message Alerts for BlackBerry, a product designed to enhance management of e-mail and SMS messages on BlackBerry devices.

The Message Alerts service is aimed at BlackBerry users who receive a high volume of messages. The application runs in the background on the BlackBerry device, allowing you to define rules that are automatically applied to incoming e-mail, SMS messages and phone calls.

According to Jackie Funk, director of marketing at Apptix, you can define rules and alerts on any combination of attributes for incoming e-mail or SMS messages, including subject, from, to, cc, as well as message content. You can also create the rules and alerts through the context menus in your inbox and address book.

While all incoming messages continue to be received on the device, the Message Alerts application is designed to eliminate the need to constantly check messages in order to avoid being late in responding to items that are urgent.

Funk used the example of a medical practice that's an early customer to illustrate the point of the rules-based service. All 24 doctors in the practice carry both a Blackberry and a pager. Now the doctors can replace the pager because Message Alerts sends continuous or repeating alerts until the message is acknowledged. She said this is more efficient than a pager that will alert the doctor only once. "You also set up rules so that if doctor X does respond, doctor Y is notified," Funk said.

Rules can be scheduled for specific times or disabled temporarily and you can also customize audio and/or vibrate notifications. The new service offers the capability to forward or delete the e-mail and/or mark it as read and retrieve the entire e-mail (or e-mails up to certain size).

Message Alerts for BlackBerry is well-suited for businesses that run 24x7 operations, Funk said. For example, Apptix expects it to be popular with bankers, brokers, doctors, emergency and support personnel, and other business people who typically rely on pagers.

For larger businesses that want to have an additional level of control, Apptix offers an Enterprise Edition that's designed to provide automatic backup and restore of rules on the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, Web-based license management for administrators and centralized registration of all devices. The enterprise product also offers the capability to create standard rules on the desktop and then centrally push out to individuals, groups or all employees. Administrators can also lock down certain rules on the device that cannot be modified by individuals.

Pricing for the standard edition starts at $20 per user. Pricing for the Enterprise Edition starts at $28 per user. Volume pricing is available, according to Apptix.

With its acquisition of WebMessenger, Apptix picked up a line of hosted mobile instant messaging products designed for both small firms and larger customers. WebMessenger Mobile Platform provides mobile, real-time presence, voice and collaboration services. WebMessenger Mobile Platform is designed to let you stay connected while away from your desktop PC through any number of wireless devices/operating systems, including BlackBerry, Palm, Pocket PC, Symbian and Windows Mobile 5.0/6.0.

WebMessenger's applications are designed to allow you to communicate across public and private IM networks, including AOL, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, GoogleTalk, Jabber, Skype, IBM Lotus Sametime, Jabber XCP, Microsoft Live Communications Server and Reuters Messaging.

"The acquisition of WebMessenger will bring the cost benefits and productivity enhancing features of mobile IM and presence management to our 150,000 SMB users," said Amir Hudda, CEO of Apptix in a statement released earlier this week. "Furthermore, it provides Apptix with the necessary intellectual properties to deliver on our vision of on-demand unified communications for the SMB market."

According to Funk, the presence capability provided by WebMessenger's technology is key to Apptix future product plans. She said the company had considered either licensing technology or developing its own. However, acquiring WebMessenger for a relatively small amount of money made the most sense given that the vast majority of WebMessenger's employees work in product development. Apptix' unified communications platform is scheduled to be released later this year.

Dan Muse is executive editor of internet.com's Small Business Channel, EarthWeb's Networking Channel and ServerWatch.

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