Eko sounds in Australian SMS market

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Victorian system integrator and developer Remora Technologies has lobbed its first SMS appliances on a trajectory targeting the direct-marketing needs of medium to large companies.

Victorian system integrator and developer Remora Technologies has lobbed its first SMS appliances on a trajectory targeting the direct-marketing needs of medium to large companies.

Rob Silver, CEO at Remora, said the company had developed an SMS-sending Apache and PHP-based appliance that enterprises can connect to their network. Dubbed Eko, the appliance enables medium to large enterprises to text 'unlimited' numbers of mobile phones.

'The reason for using PHP [language] and Apache makes it very much cross-platform. So we've stuck with our open source and open standards proposition,' Silver said. 'Initially, we're rolling it out to our mid-market [customers] and building up in that space and then moving out into larger enterprises.'

The Lite edition of the Eko suite, which also comes in enterprise and corporate flavours, would become available to resellers in the second quarter of 2004, he added.

Eko's main appeal was as a marketing tool delivering high-volume advertising and consumer messaging. More than 14 million Australian mobile phone users had adopted SMS, he said, sending about 12 million messages a day.

Eko was designed to comply with Australia's new anti-spam legislation. 'The anti-spam legislation is concise and to date, what we have built into Eko is functionality for ... people have to explicitly opt into something and can opt out at any time and that happens automatically,' Silver said.

He said Eko was designed to work with information-based services for computers in the back-office environment, such as helping sales staff check inventory for particular products while working out of the office.

'It could be rolled out for anything from receiving information such as account or banking information to ... stock quotes or sports results,' Silver said.

Eko could be connected to a local-area GSM network which could be around 12 cents cheaper - or half the price - than SMS charging offered by major carriers, especially for businesses sending large volumes of text messages, he said. 'We're offering a number of different pricings. If you have a radio card in your computer, you may be paying standard subscriber rates with Telstra [for instance],' Silver said.

Silver said Remora also planned to develop and launch MMS-based technologies but felt the market was unlikely to be ready for MMS gear until late 2004. 'We're starting developing that now that we've finished the SMS,' he said.

Remora would eventually offer a range of products under the Eko name, which was 100 percent owned by Remora. 'We'll be talking about spinning [Eko] off as a separate company with venture capital as well,' he said.

Silver said that if the appliance did well here, Remora would consider launching it overseas. 'Every GSM network is pretty much the same,' he said.

Earlier this year, Remora signed a deal with Sun to jointly push open-standards-based and Java applications to the mid-market through the Australian channel.

'Research organisations are telling us that at the moment [that] we are sending 300 million SMS messages every year in Australia and are expecting that growth to continue to 2007 ... We believe that Java from a handheld device perspective is a far more superior platform [to .NET],' Silver told CRN at the time.

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