Yahoo subsidiary, Zimbra has shipped a version of its e-mail and collaboration software suite that adds support for BlackBerry devices and Outlook 2007.
Version 5.0 of the Zimbra Collaboration Suite (ZCS) lets users synchronize e-mail, contacts, calendars and to-do lists with Outlook 2007.
Meanwhile, it also extends its mobile reach via support for the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, allowing users to access Zimbra on all BlackBerry devices. ZCS 5.0 also lets users tap into Zimbra from J2ME devices and from any mobile Web browser, including the iPhone's.
"Mobility is a huge strategic priority and an area where we'll invest a lot in," Satish Dharmaraj, Yahoo vice president and Zimbra co-founder, said in an interview before Microsoft's £22bn unsolicited bid for Yahoo was announced on Friday.
There has been a heavy interest among Zimbra's enterprise and education customers for BlackBerry support, while consumer clients pushed for J2ME and mobile Web access, he said, adding that Zimbra plans to build a native application for the iPhone.
In addition, the suite's Web client now has a to-do application for tasks management, an instant messaging application that allows group chats, and the ability to work while offline using Zimbra Desktop.
The expanded mobile access and the offline support are important enhancements that will resonate in the enterprise market, where the Yahoo association doesn't help Zimbra, said Rebecca Wettemann, an analyst with Nucleus Research.
With ZCS 5.0, Zimbra is also making available optional "zimlets" or widgets that link the suite with Yahoo services like Flickr, Yahoo Local, Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Search. Meanwhile, Zimbra technology is being brought to Yahoo Mail and Calendar, due later this year.
Zimbra currently provides 11 million paid mailboxes to customers in more than 70 countries. Customers include Red Hat, Texas A&M University, European ISP (Internet service provider) Eircom and Brandeis University.
ZCS 5.0 is free in its Open Source Edition, while fees vary
for the Network Edition commercial version, which customers can try out for free for 60 days. ZCS can be downloaded and installed by customers on premise or used as Web hosted software-as-a-service.
ZCS competes against Microsoft Office and Exchange in the on-premise software market, and against Google Apps, Zoho and Cisco's WebEx in the software-as-a-service market.
Yahoo surprised many when it bought Zimbra in last year's fourth quarter for US$350 million. At the time, Zimbra customers in general expressed concern about the future of the suite if Zimbra became part of Yahoo, whose focus in on the consumer Internet market.
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