Pumatech: Emerging as a Major Player in Mobile & Wireless
December 30, 2003
Effective yesterday, Pumatech has completed the acquisition of Synchrologic and, as a result of the finalization of the merger, Pumatech has now emerged as a major player in the mobile and wireless software market.Here's why.
Pumatech became well-known for synchronization between handhelds and PDAs with their Intellisync product.They had a great positioning of being a "friend of the user" since they enabled synchronization between platforms, something that the platform companies didn't want to do themselves.For example, with Intellisync users could sync their email, contacts, calendar and tasks between Microsoft Outlook and a Palm PDA.Microsoft only offered sync between Microsoft platform products, namely Outlook and PocketPC.
Intellisync grew to support all popular major "back end" groupware platforms such as Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes, ACT!, Novell GroupWise and the Palm Desktop.They support all Palm and PocketPC devices on the client side.Enterprise customers typically need to sync from whatever groupware platform that have installed to both Palm and PocketPC devices since most have both Palm and PocketPC devices in their organization.Hence, Intellisync became well known as the enterprise standard for providing synchronization from multiple backend groupware systems to multiple client devices.Enterprise Intellisync provides a management console to assist IT in the configuration and maintenance of Intellisync around the organization.To be fair, other firms such as Extended Systems also provide similar cross platform synchronization services. And, while Chupura's PocketMirror is bundled with many Palm devices, it does not support the range of groupware platforms nor does it support the range of client devices.
Pumatech extended the reach of their Intellisync brand with sales via retail, direct to enterprises, online, and via OEM channels. Yahoo has licensed the Intellisync engine to allow Outlook users to sync their calendar with the Yahoo calendar, thus allowing friends and family to access and view a person's personal PC-based calendar using any Web browser.MSN and AOL have also licensed Intellisync to sync their services with PC applications and mobile devices.Pumatech also built a valuable patent portfolio in synchronization.
When the dot com boom and Internet came along, Pumatech took its eyes off the desktop-based synchronization market and tried to launch a consumer service to provide Web access to personal information under a subscription basis. They even added a service that allowed subscribers to get notified about important events.But with information being mostly free (due to online advertising) and there not being a real need for personal information to be available on the Web (most mobile professionals spend a lot of time NOT connected to the Internet), the company almost imploded from its diversion.
But, the Board took decisive action and hired Woody Hobbs in the fall of 2002 as the company's new CEO. He refocused the company on synchronization and hired Clyde Foster as Sr. VP of Sales & Marketing and a number of other key executives.Now, one year later, the company has done a complete turnaround. They have re-focused their efforts on the core synchronization market and have used licensing and acquisitions to extend the company's reach to new markets.
In the past year, Pumatech used numerous acquisitions to expand the synchronization market.They acquired TrueSync from Starfish Software.New TrueSync Server 4.0 is designed for wireless carriers. It provides over-the-air synchronization of PIM data across applications, devices and networks. It gives wireless carriers the ability to add value by offering their customers multi-point synchronization services for SyncML phones and Palm OS or Pocket PC handhelds.
Carriers can use TrueSync Server 4.0 to offer customers the ability to sync with popular desktop PIM applications like Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes. In addition, TrueSync Server 4.0 supports synchronization of SyncML devices with Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Domino enterprise groupware, as well as Oracle, DB2 and Microsoft SQL Server databases. TrueSync Server 4.0 also includes a Web-based PIM application with the ability to store contacts, events, to-do's and tasks.
Pumatech also acquired the assets of two additional companies in 2003:
Spontaneous Technology, Inc. (SponTec), whose software provides secure, carrier-grade enterprise VPN solutions that extend existing corporate applications to any wireless device and operating system, and
Loudfire, Inc., whose solution enables real-time remote wireless access to Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, and pre-specified PC files from any device equipped with a Web browser.
But, the most important expansion of Pumatech’s synchronization services came on Sept. 15 when the company announced the acquisition of Synchrologic. Synchrologic's Mobile Suite platform provides server-based synchronization of email, PIM, custom data, and files, while giving IT the tools to remotely manage mobile devices. Synchrologic now becomes the enterprise sub-brand for Pumatech.
Synchrologic Mobile Suite is compatible with a wide range of mobile devices, including laptop and tablet PCs, Pocket PC, Palm, and Symbian OS devices as well as backend applications including Exchange, Domino, Oracle, Sybase, DB2, and SQL Server. Synchrologic Mobile Suite is composed of four core products:
1. Synchrologic Email Accelerator
Email Accelerator provides a secure, centrally managed, server-based system for synchronizing handheld devices over wireless or wireline connections. It goes beyond simple email and PIM sync by providing "true push" to the wireless device (so that the user doesn’t have to get the email from the server), proactive alerts, WAP and Web browser access. It will even put a mobile professional’s airline flights into his calendar and give him driving directions to his hotel automatically.
2. Synchrologic Data Sync
Data Sync provides secure mobile and remote access to Customer Relationship Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, Supply Chain Management, and specialized industry applications. Data Sync helps companies build competitive advantage by empowering mobile workers with pervasive access to these enterprise applications.
3. Synchrologic File Sync
Synchrologic File Sync allows corporate files and intranet content to be kept updated on each user's mobile device. Whenever the master files are updated on the server, the files will be efficiently updated automatically on the user’s mobile devices.
4. Synchrologic Systems Management
Synchrologic Systems Management is a mobile-focused solution that offers IT staff sophisticated remote software installation and upgrade capabilities, device configuration, backup, and hardware and software asset inventory collection. Mobile device users enjoy greater productivity, are insulated from confusing software installs, and are protected from down time because their devices are better managed.
These four integrated products will become the pillars on which Pumatech will build their enterprise business. Enterprises are now integrating mobility into their core strategy. They think of mobility as being mainstream, not something adjunct to the company’s core IT services. We expect to see more enterprises make mobility the primary focus of their IT architecture going forward. Synchrologic’s Mobile Suite plays well into that strategy as it provides mobility services that tie into the company’s entire IT infrastructure.
Where might Pumatech go from here? As evident from the moves Pumatech is making, especially with the Synchrologic acquisition, we expect Pumatech to continue to build the most comprehensive set of products for companies and individuals to take advantage of and manage mobility. Multiple device support, a wide range of supported backend servers, and a variety of wireless and wireline connections will dominate the thinking behind Pumatech’s product plans. As the integration of Synchrologic’s Mobile Suite becomes a core part of the enterprise strategy, we would expect to see an increase in Pumatech’s revenue and profits. We also suspect that Woody, Clyde and the Pumatech team may not be through growing the company via acquisitions. This has been a classic case of a successful turnaround. With growing revenues and profits, the company can continue to grow its position as a major software company in the mobile and wireless market. Truly, the best days of the company may now be in front of them as a result of smart, focused efforts over the past year.
J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D.