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AirPrism joins crowded mobile management field

AirPrism is entering the crowded mobile device management field with new self-healing software for handhelds. While an analyst says the product is unique, the market remains ripe for consolidation.

Mobile resource management startup AirPrism Inc. recently announced a new product designed to remotely manage handheld...

devices over wireless networks. With this announcement, the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based firm becomes one of a number of companies to market products designed specifically for mobile management.

AirPrism's Mobility Management Suite takes an inventory of the software on a device and then allows it to self-diagnose and fix problems, much like Norton Utilities tracks down and repairs problems on a desktop computer.

AirPrism's product also secures data, in case a device is lost, and distributes software updates across any network. A user can choose to have an update delivered immediately or when the device is in a high-bandwidth area or synced up in a cradle. If a device's falls victim to battery failure, AirPrism's software will reload the device with data stored on a company's server.

The client is compatible with a variety of Microsoft operating systems. Bob Vieraitis, vice president of marketing at AirPrism, said the Mobile Management Suite is well-suited for field force workers in the pharmaceutical and health care industries.

A number of other vendors have already developed competing mobile management products; those vendors include Novell Inc. with its ZENworks product, Mobile Automation Inc., and Novadigm Inc. These products generally inventory a device's data and enable wireless software upgrades. All of these companies are responding to a change in how business are using mobile devices, said Gerry Purdy, principal analyst with Cupertino, Calif.-based research firm MobileTrax LLC.

Purdy said companies are now moving away from using mobile devices for simple personal information management, such as calendaring and e-mail, to more mission-critical applications.

"All of a sudden, devices and applications that were simple enough to let them take care of themselves are now a much bigger deal," he said. Now employees are going home with devices that contain important corporate information.

With that being the case, Purdy said, businesses are now more willing to spend money to manage mobile devices.

AirPrism is entering the market behind many other vendors, which puts the small company at a disadvantage to some of the more established competitors, Purdy said. But, he said, the software differentiates itself with its self-healing capabilities, as well as with its data lockdown and retrieval functions.

With so many small competitors battling for customers in a young market, the mobile resource management field is likely to see some consolidations. A company like AirPrism may get swallowed up by a bigger competitor, Purdy said.

AirPrism's licensing fee for its management product starts at $80 per device.


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