Vendors are responding by pursuing differentiation in the areas of collaboration, applications and the cloud, it said in a study, which said that worldwide wireless e-mail users will reach 1 billion by year-end 2014.
Worldwide business wireless e-mail accounts were estimated at more than 80 million in early 2010, including large, midsize and small organizations, as well as individual professionals — corresponding to about 60 million active users.
“Productivity gains with wireless e-mail are driving adoption beyond executives,” said Monica Basso, research vice president at Gartner. “In 2010, enterprise wireless e-mail is still a priority for organizations, whose mobile workforces are up to 40 per cent of the total employee base.”
She said most midsize and large organizations in North America and Europe have deployed enterprise wireless e-mail already, but on average, for less than 5 per cent of the workforce.
Wireless e-mail makes an individual's e-mail account accessible and usable via mobile networks on mobile devices, within a local client application or through a Web browser, through a software gateway connected to (or part of) the e-mail server.
An enterprise wireless e-mail deployment has a software gateway that is behind the corporate firewall, possibly connected through a network operations center (NOC) to a mobile client. Most products support Microsoft Exchange Server. IT administration, security and remote device management are supported to a different extent.
Social networking services replacing e-mail
As wireless e-mail begins to integrate with social networking and collaboration, social networking is increasingly complementing e-mail for interpersonal business communications. Gartner predicts that by 2014, social networking services will replace e-mail as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications for 20 per cent of business users.
“People increasingly want to use mobile devices for collaboration to share content, information, and experiences with their communities,” Basso said. “Social paradigms are converging with e-mail, instant messaging, voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and presence, creating new collaboration styles.”
Cloud e-mail and collaboration services by Microsoft, IBM, Google and other players already include mobile support, but are very early in adoption, said the study. However, Gartner predicts that adoption will grow significantly in the next three to five years.
In 2009, only 3 per cent of e-mail accounts were in the cloud but by the end of 2012, that number will increase to 10 per cent.
“Thanks to ease of access, the cloud will generate indirect competition in the wireless e-mail software market and will transform it in the long term,” said Basso said. "Cloud e-mail offerings from software and service players, such as Google's Gmail, will begin to be adopted, pulling wireless e-mail implementations into the cloud as well.”
According to her, Research In Motion and other wireless e-mail vendors would build partnerships with cloud providers to address their customers' cloud strategies.
“Through 2012, wireless e-mail products and services will be interchangeable, shipping in large volumes at reduced prices. Wireless e-mail will be highly commoditized and on any device. This commoditization will, in turn, drive standardization and price reductions on service bundles from mobile carriers,” she added.